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upset the rhythm tod 






iWOS*? **'**' 

c1 a laurentgan 

^^ the field yesterday and today fclU k | e ptomaniac 
£10 *feased y i8/05/09 

. optimo presents 

the shimmering hour £1 \) in or der to ~ A 

nathan fake hard islands 
leased 18/05/09 

caspaeverybodys talking, 
£5 nobodys listening 

k nadjawheniseethesun 
Teanderthals desire lines g\Q always shines on tv 

meana re leased 11/05^ 

IcilfJ 1 #:li[f 

buy your cds, dvds and books from fopp - if they suck we'll give you a swap or your lolly* 


union street & byres road // 1< 

street //HO 


, dvds and books instore and is only available on production of a valid receipt dated no more than four weeks fr 
Goods must be in the condition as sold, both the sleeve/case, disc or spine/pages. We reserve the right to refuse this offer. This offer in no way affects your statutory rights. 

ay be priced differently. 

music film + books 

the best titles @ simple prices suck_it_and_see 



"■^.- - - 

ik* «m^* *^ M 


10 The XX 

12 Willie Isz, Mi Ami 

14 Guided Tour: Sunn O))) 

16-17 History From Below: Upset The Rhythm 

18 St Vincent 

20 Izza Kizza 

22-23 Singles Club: Danger, Theoretical Girl, 

Virus Syndicate, Dirty Projectors 

24 When We Meet: Aeroplane, Cooly G, Youves 

26 Icy Demons, Music That Time Forgot: 

The Wolfgang Press 

28-29 Read Labels: Planet Mu, Remote Viewer: 

Gothenburg, Ghostly International 

82 The Random Revenge of. . . Lady Sovereign 


32-36 Grizzly Bear 
38-39 ToddlaT 
40-41 The Drones 
42-47 US Black Metal 


64-65 Patrick Wolf 

66 Nathan Fake, The Field, Au Revoir Simone 

68 Current 93, The Bats, Blank Dogs 

70-71 Akron/Family, Sylvester Anfang II, 


72-73 Open Strings, Sir Richard Bishop, 

Das Wanderlust 

74-75 Bill Wells and Maher Shalal Hash Baz, 

Miss Kittin And the Hacker, Trembling Bells 

76-77 Fischerspooner, Isis, Venetian Snares 

78-79 REISSUES Teenage: The Creation 

Of Youth: 191 1-1946, Animal Collective, Red 

Red Meat, X-RaySpex 


80 ZINES James Nash, Zineswap 

81 DVD BFI's Flipside series, Derek 


6-7 Instal 

48-49 The Tenniscoats, Little Boots, Bishi 

50-51 Bloc, Hanne Hukkelberg, Hudson 


58-60 FESTIVAL PREVIEW Loop, Field Day, 


60-61 LIVE PREVIEW Phosphorescent, A Ritual 

For Elephant And Castle 

Photography: Anna Wolf 
plan b | 3 

Some things in mind, as we put together the 
finishing touches to the 45th edition of Plan B. 

Seeing Dirty Projectors, for the first time, as they 
performed new album Bitte Orca at London's Scala. 
Dave Longstreth is quite the performer, no? So full 
of little quirks and mannerisms - eagle eyes darting 
left and right as Amber and Angel sang their hearts 
out either side of him, a quick lick of the lips as he 
stepped up to the microphone, and in a sublime 
moment of fakery, pretending he couldn't hit 
the first note of 'Rise Above' before skewering 
it perfectly. His manner reminds me a little of 
a method actor playing at being a rock star; 
like, Johnny Depp doing David Byrne perhaps? 
But for all the conceptual underpinnings and genre 
experiments to Dirty Projectors' music - a tangle 
of dancing highlife guitar there, a melismaticR&B 
vocal there - the songs themselves bear no trace 
of artifice, all weightless and joyful, light and full 
of life. kicking_k reviews Dirty Projectors' Brighton 
show in this month's lives, and we'll revisit Bitte 
Orca with a little more rigour next month. 

And then there was Upset The Rhythm's 
Yes Way! festival, the first great gig on my South 
London doorstep in three years. . .taking place 
on the very weekend I move north of the river. 
In between lugging boxes of vinyl and scrubbing 
skirting boards, though, I made it down for a few 
hours, and it was worth it for the whereabouts itself: 
a converted car showroom just off the Old Kent 
Road, made over for 48 hours as an art-and-music 
space, and a reminder of how this stuff can thrive 
when pulled out of the venue/gallery context. 
We appraise Yes Way! in more detail and talk 
to the team behind Upset The Rhythm in this 
month's Void. 

Veckatimest, the extremely grand, very 
symphonic new record by this month's cover stars 
Grizzly Bear. I'm old enough to harbour certain 
misgivings about the idea of orchestral indie-rock, 
recalling the mid-Nineties fashion for dumping 
some strings on your lumpy sentimental number as 
a way of conferring it with some highbrow gravitas. 
Grizzly Bear, mind, appearto bethinking about this 
in a very different way; their records seem to have 
always anticipated the billow and sweep of an 
orchestra, even when they came together in 
a space no bigger than Ed Droste's dorm room, 
so Veckatimest feels like something of a realisation. 
Lauren Strain will be your eager tour guide to its 
opulent spaces, gilt interiors, and nooks and 
crannies - please remove your shoes at the door. 
Louis Pattison 


156-158 Gray's Inn Road 



020 7278 5070 

Publisher: Frances Morgan 020 7278 5070 
Assistant Publisher: Richard Stacey 07989 774 058 
Advertising: Nick Taylor 07941 715 815 

Publisher-At-Large: Everett True 

Printed by Stones The Printers 


Warners Group Distribution (newsagents, 

retail chains, international) 01 778 391 1 94 

Cargo Records (independent record shops) 

Plan B is published by Plan B Publishing Ltd 

ISSN 1744-2435 

The next issue of Plan B will be available in 
WH Smiths, independent newsagents, Borders, 
HMV, Waterstones, selected university campus 
shops and all good record shops, week beginning 
1 June 2009. 
for the stockists' list and subscriber info. You can 
ask independent newsagents to order it at the 
counter, or email 
Plan B is now available for digital subscription at 


Editor: Louis Pattison 

Art Director: Andrew Clare 
Photo Editor: Cat Stevens 

The Void/Lives: kicking_k 
Albums/Preview: Lauren Strain 
Media: Louis Pattison 

Website: James 

Events: Ben Webster planbmagazineevents® 

Sub-editors: Anne Hollowday, Katie Horrocks, Jamie 
Kingett, Reena Makwana, Ben Mechen, 
Alexis Somerville 

Contributors: StuartAitken, Miss AMP, Euan Andrews, 
Adam Anonymous, HayleyAvron, Dan Barrow, Emily Bick, 
Abi Bliss, Natalie Boxall, Melissa Bradshaw, Beth Capper, 
Stevie Chick, Merek Cooper, Neil Cooper, The Corpo, Jon 
Dale, Jesse Darlin', John Darnielle, Petra Davis, John Doran, 
Dickon Edwards, Matt Evans, Jonathan Falcone, Alistair 
Fitchett, Anna-Marie Fitzgerald, Fiona Fletcher, Richard 
Fontenoy, Noel Gardner, Thorn Gibbs, Kieron Gillen, Alex 
Goffey, Spencer Grady, Hannah Gregory, James Hodgson, 
Jess Holland, Anne Hollowday, Jessica Hopper, Tom Howard, 
Ben Hoyle, Miranda lossifidis, Charlie Jones, Kev Kharas, 
Jamie Kingett, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Neil Kulkarni, 
Sam Lewis, Chris Lo, Darren Loucaides, Andrzej Lukowski, 
Scott McKeating, Alex Macpherson, David McNamee, 
Ben Mechen, Nicola Meighan, Patrick Moran, Shane Moritz, 
Doug Mosurock, Marcus O'Dair, James Papademetrie, 
Peter Parrish, Ned Raggett, Marcus Scott, Matthew Sheret, 
Joe Shooman, James Skinner, Quintin Smith, Stewart Smith, 
Alexis Somerville, Ringo P Stacey, Joseph Stannard, Lianne 
Steinberg, Lauren Strain, Samuel Strang, Dr Swan, George 
Taylor, Daniel Trilling, Matilda Tristram, Meryl Trussler, 
Ben Webster, RobinWilks, LivWillars 


Heather Culp 

Bryony Mclntyre 

Owen Richards 

Ian Phillip Smith 

Bryan Spencer 

Anna Wolf 


Carla Barth 
Jussi Brightmore 
Gwenola Carrere 
Katey Jean Harvey 
Lauren Minco 

Cover photography: Anna Wolf 

4 1 plan b 






Album of the week in Kerrang! and 
NME, album of the month in Rock 
Sound and Big Cheese. 

THE GUARDIAN: "As rebellious 
and American as the Stooges or 
Jack Kerouac - and every bit 
as compelling" 

Includes the singles 
"Young Bloods" and "Knifeman". 

iT fe 

•Miisp ' 



ill Vil'l* 



NME: Sweet, subtle and with 
one hell of a kick - just like a 
good cocktail" 

ROCK SOUND: "Crammed with 
indie-rock anthems" 

adrenaline rush of a pop recorc 

New single "Antibodies" 
coming soon with - " ' 

and more! 


* *• 

t* * 





The debut release from this 
Swedish sister duo now includes 
their cover of Fleet Foxes "Tiger 
Mountain Peasant Song" and three 
exclusive live video recordings. 

PLAN B "Drunken Trees is near 
perfect, like a new born babe: 
sweet, lovable and infectious" 






1 2CD / CD / LP / DOWNLOAD | 


The highly anticipated proper 
follow-up to the highly acclaimed 
Writer's Block. Limited double- 
disc edition includes their recent 
instrumental vinyl-only album, 
Seaside Rock, on CD for the 
first time. 

Includes the single "Nothing To 
Worry About". 



t X 


('l)NUIf tlllKltHT 

H.lkv i;a\i> 





The second solo album from 
Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes 
brings his band mates more to 
the fore, with a fuller sound that 
will be familiar to anyone that 
caught the Mystic Valley Band on 
tour in Europe last year. 

Includes "Slowly" and Nikorette". 


11th MAY 

The entire third Bloc Party album 
remixed by Herve, Armand Van 
Helden, Mogwai, Gold Panda, No 
Age, John B, Phones and others. 

New single "Signs" in stores from 
April 27th includ 


» / 12"/ DOWNLOAD 

8th JUNE 

Debut release from Wichita's latest 
signing, LissyTrulliefrom New 
York City. It's been said that they 
sound like Chrissie Hynde fronting 
Television, and that comparison 
gets somewhere close. We 
immediately fell in love with these 
six hook-laden, sharp-tongued 
songs. We hope that you feel the 
same way when you hear ther 



"the rumble of Grinderman, the freakiness of Amazing Baby 

and the psych hellishness of Black Mountain" 


"This lot flip between freakouts and desolation blues 

like a cross between Jefferson Airplane and Dead Meadow" 

(Debut Album of the Month) UNCUT 

"...breathtaking psychedelic post-rock.... Sleepy Sun 

have triumphed in concocting a modernistic vision of 

west coast musicality; equal parts mindless filth 

and intelligent, song-centric cohesion. A stunning debut." 






- www. 


.com . 



A better 
for everyone 


rds: Euan Andrews and Stewart Smith 

al Choir photo: Bryony Mclntyre 

Instal 2009 

The Arches/University Chapel, Glasgow 

Instal goes to great lengths to make the avant- 
garde and experimental more approachable 
and palatable to new, perhaps sceptical 
audiences. Throughout the weekend's many 
performances, we are reminded we are a non- 
passive community sharing these spaces with 
artists and musicians; we should be prepared 
to open ourselves up, hear the place we fill. 
Inevitably, this works far better in some cases 
than others. It's brave to put on the almost 
imperceptible improvisations of duos such 
as Klaus Filip and Radu Malfatti and 
Sean Meehan and Taku Unami, but these 
performances -conceptually fascinating due 
to their use of silence as the predominant 
'instrument'-simply don't work in front 
of large audiences, especially with trains from 
Glasgow Central Station rumbling above. 

8 | plan b 





Seymour Wright's meditation on the 
deconstructed saxophone might also have 
fallen victim, but he's such an intense presence, 
methodically exploring the valves and pipes, 
that it becomes hypnotic slowly shifting within 
the sax's range. Opposing such austere and 
potentially forbidding sound experiments 
is Rolf Julius's performance of Music For 
A Long Time. It is a richly immersive piece which 
involves Julius mixing and modulating pre- 
determined sounds from a number of small 
speakers. For once, though, let us forget the 
process. My own hour spent in this twinkling 
soundworld is a personal highlight. It's as if 
time has frozen. I close my eyes and it comes 
as quite a shock when, after some time, they 
open again in a stone-walled room surroundei 
by people. y! 

That same large, dark room is later thJ- 
scene for the incredible musiqueconcrete 


v .-• 

of Jean-Philippe Gross and Jerome 

Noetinger, the two men hunched over 
a central workstation covered in mics, mixing 
desks, reel-to-reel tapes and all manner of 
detritus while a six-way PA situated around 
the walls practically atomises the very air 
with their results. Maximum volume and 
spatial dynamics harness an electrical storm 
around us. 

For all these extremities, the weekend 
ultimately belongs to Phil Minton's 
Feral Choir. The 100-strong collection 
of local amateur voices gives a truly joyous 
performance, revelling in their perhaps 
hitherto untapped vocal potential. They 
gasp, holler, grumble and chirp under 

expression of Instal's marriage of shared 
experience and experiment, perhaps building 
a better environment for everyone. (EA) 


As David Keenan has observed, sound 
poetry and explorations of body-sound n 
infiltrated the free noise underground vi; 
the punk jabber of Aaron Dillowayand D 
Nyoukis. Responding to this current, this y 
Instal presents advanced vocal innovators 
alongside slobbering young upstarts, and even 
let the public in on the action via Phil Minton' 
Feral Choir. Well, how could I resist? The 
workshop begins with laughter, as Mi" + ~ 
half conductor, half Puck, encourages 

it had never been, pjimate grunts, insecti 
chatter, and -when I eventually find the i 
spot in my larynx^an attempt at yodelling. 

i imeraiing experience. 

/linton demonstrates his own form 1 " 1 

ps by taking on Steve McCaffery's s 

m 'Carnival', a iclacl by Dylan NyouRlS and 

Aileen Campbell. Crouched to one side, 
Minton contorts vowels and trades epiglottals 
with Nyoukis, while Campbell fills in the high 
end with avian chirruping. Tremendous 
fun. While Nyoukis delivers fragments 
in lobotomised Glasgwegian, McCaffery 
renders the same in guttural French, reeling 
'- " Tthlessly through a dizzying array 

/mbols and abstracts. For all the absurd 
humour, Joan La Barbara demonstrates 
the serious discipline underlying it all with 

^oicings of a single note and an exercise 
. ar breathing: justtry singing while 
inhaling (it ain't easy). Ben Knight lacks 
the technique of these masters, but his lip- 
wobbling, head-shaking incantations make 

' "unconvincing case for DIY appropriation 
of their strategies, particularly when set 
against Helhesten cohort Hannah Ellul's 
gurgling clarinet. 

subterranean bunkers of The Arches an< 
into the light of Glasgow University Cha, 
Reverence tenot an issue with Toshimaru 
Nakamura and Jean-Luc Guionnet's 

blowout for organ and no-input mixing desk. 
Guionnet manipulates the airflow to the pipes 
to create billowing textures and fat drones, 
while Nokimura sends fizzing arcs of feed bac 
dancing around the nave. As imposing as 
Hermann Nitsch's organ works sound, thev 
might have benefited from some of Guiol 
invention. That said, Nitsch is all about del 
and at their best, his compositions bear dov 
on the pews with the crushing weight o Lthe 
cosmos. It's hard to argue with the sound 
of a church organ at full blast, obliteratinc 
shimmering chorales with violent fi: 
of demonic bass. I am left disorienta - 
I leave in awe. (SS) 

t i-K J o l o 

the void 

the xx 

Words: Petra Davis 

I think I'm going to go about this backwards, bare bones first, meat after, 
then skin, like it feels, like it works, backwards. You'll see, have seen, The XX 
on tour with Micachu. You'll be awaiting their album -their album, as yet 
unnamed, which they finished a matter of days ago, now. Already, you'll 
know, might love, their unreleased single, 'Crystallised' -sweet, dark and 
dusty, one-note like a chocolate drop. You'll have read, maybe blogged even, 
how it recalls Hercules And Love Affair, CocoRosie and Tracy + The Plastics - 
all are namechecked as influences in the scantlings available to me, 
now, beforehand. The photos of them that I can't find, their faces I can't 
picture, you'll know all that. It's all folded in, the way it feels by the time 
you know. 

For a band so clearly about to break, The XX are pretty much still invisible, 
still unformed, hard to pin an intention to, tough to locate with words alone: 
Schrodinger's Band. I spent a day or so taking readings, grokking on their single, 
the demos on their MySpace. Waylaid by illness and impossibility, I spoke to 
them one by one, awkwardly handing the phone around, sweet to make up 
for it, stepping out of their Saturday afternoon cafe shade into fickle March 
sunshine and street noise. 

"Amazing, amazing," singsongs Ollie, singer/bassist, like he knows it's going 
to be. "I'm so excited. We've been basically in the studio for four months and 
now we're out and are starting to do a few interviews, photos. . . " 


"Urn, no. No stylist. Wear black, it's not hard." 

"Watch things on VCRs/Drink tea and talk about making love/I think we're 
superstars/And you, you just know, you just do. " - 'VC R' 

'We always want to do stuff 
in real time' 

"In music lessons the teacher would just send us off into our own little room, 
because we were the ones who were actually interested in music, instead 
of playing the same thing over and over on a keyboard, " says programmer/ 
producer Jamie. "We were all at school together. " 

"We learned to talk together, let alone sing together, " says Ollie of singer/ 
guitarist Romy. "We went to school together, learned music together - she's 
my sister. We've known each other since we were two. " 

She's not his sister. They don't sing like brother and sister. They sing like 
they're sad they're not in love; facing away, dreaming in opposite directions. 
There's romance, of a kind, in unison, in the shared attack, sustain, and decay. 

"I mean, I can't remember a time when I didn't knowOllie," says Romy. 
"He's my best friend. But the songs mean different things to each of us. Even 
though there's generally a vocal duet happening, we're never singing to each 
other. I like that-that we each have our mind on someone else completely. " 

Like there's more people in the song than should fit. 

"Amazing," she says, and I can't help laughing. 

"You can 't resist, and kiss and kiss and kiss and kiss and kiss. . . " - ' Hot Like Fire' 

They're natural successors to The Knife, The XX. Populist, humid and sinister, 
dreamy and clever, oddly uncomfortable, despite the familiarity of their idioms. 
What they have that The Knife don't have is an axiomatic understatement. 

"We've always said that everything we record, we want to be able to play 
live," says Romy. "Sotherearenooverdubs. No extra bits." 

"We never think about it in terms of recording," explains Jamie. "We just use 
what we have, we don't use loops, we always want to do stuff in real time. " 

"I once read an interview with the Sugababes," Romy elucidates. "Someone 
asked if they wrote their own songs - they said each wrote their own verses, 
each wrote what each would sing. We sort of made that into a principle. " 

Is that true? 

" Well . . .no. Later on we met someone who wrote all the Sugababes songs. 
It's more of a romantic image I think about when I'm writing." 

Stories don't have to be true to be important. They just have to be perfect, 
so. So that's the real secret of romance - that it doesn't have to be real. 













Available at 

h \ 


mi ami 

Words: Abi Bliss 

"I feel anxious and paranoid about a lot of things 
going on in the world right now," Daniel Martin- 
McCormick says. " Life is beautiful, but we're living 
in a culture that's careening towards catastrophe." 

Halfway through our conversation, the Mi Ami 
frontman/guitarist breaks off: " Holy shit! " A car has 
just crashed in front of him. It turns out to be minor, but 
the universe has made its point. Maybe the heightened 
anxiety of the San Francisco trio's debut, Watersports, 
is the correct state of mind to adopt after all. 

A few years ago the record might have been filed 
under dance-punk, but let its kinetic attack-decay dub 
or sharp-elbowed no-wave/free jazz scramble lure 
you to the floor and you'll find the grooves give way 
to paralysing nightmares of cavernous dread, 
punctuated by Martin-McCormick's strangled, 
passive-aggressive wails of psychosexual torment. 

"When we were writing and recording the album, 
I was going through a lot personally with an intense 
relationship, feeling disconnected from my body and 
pulled in a lot of directions. It's a cliche to say it comes 
out in the music, but there was no desire to hide it." 

Martin-McCormick and bassist Jacob Long were 
previously in Dischord's bass-heavy Black Eyes, where 
the members' differing tastes made for fertile but 
ultimately destructive creative tension. "We all had 
our own vision, and none of them sounded like Black 
Eyes", he says. On moving to California in ?005. thp 
two of them took up separate noise projec , 
to reunite in the hope of producing something more in 
rhythm with the dance and techno they were listening 
to: "We thought we were a disco band. We were too 
blinded by our enjoyment of playing together to realise 
that we weren't." 

With drummer Damon Palermo added, 
Watersportswas recorded mostly live over two and 
a half days. "We recorded the album fast because we 
practise a lot. If your band takes two months to record 
seven songs, you need to get back and practise more." 

Deciphering the lyrics isn't easy, however. As the 
singer explains, many of the songs draw parallels 
between his own combative love life and how 
"the same energy informs a war on a global scale." 
The album's gleefully piss-soaked title makes a similar 
leap between personal and political: 

"As a sexual practice, the term is compelling to me: 
it turns degradation into a pleasure. If we're talking 
about relating to energies of violence in my own life 
and in the political world, this is one way of turning 
that into something liberating and strangely beautiful. 

"Then, thinking about the political landscape, 
there's a lot of dialogue about torture - is 
waterboarding torture? - and so on. To us, 
'watersports' was a term that already existed for 
something that sounded innocuous but took on 
a political meaning for the dehumanising aspect 
of current political conversation." 

willie isz 

Words: Emily Bick 

Willie Isz's Georgiavania feels like a day spent 
mixing everything in the drinks cabinet, and 
everything tasting really good. The name is a 
mix of the hometowns of Atlanta rapper Khujo 
(from Goodie Mob) and producer Jniero Jarel, 
(DrWho Dat?)from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 
Blended into turf-fixing declarations of hustle 
and skill are hints of haunted house production - 
ghostly echoes and monster noises, Eighties 
drum machines that fizz like an aspirin dropped 
into a glass of water -so maybe Transylvania has 
a role too. 

Even the name, Willie Isz, comes from another 
combination that looks unlikely at first, but makes 

'You have the bright 
side and the dark side, 
the raaagh' 

perfect sense: Willie is Khujo's real name. And the 
Isz? That comes from the series of comic books and 
the MTV cartoon series, The Maxx. Isz were ghostly 
creatures that lived in everyone's subconscious 
dreamworlds. There, they were harmless enough - 
but turned carnivorous when released into the 
outside world. "I used to love it," saysJneiro. "The 
graphics, the music were so dope. . .1 was going 
to make an album that was dedicated to that whole 
thing, sample clips, have all the characters, different 
MCs playing them. ..but Willie Isz. have the 
bright side and the dark side, the raaagh, the 
monsters - Khujo's been doing that forever. " 

That growl certainly charges out of The Grussle', 
with Khujo adding choruses of roars to the sound 
of an Irish jig, of all things. Jnerio liked what he 
called the "medieval" sound of it, and it works, 

forcing Khujo to dance faster, speed up his flow. 
The Grussle', Khujo says, "is a combination of your 
hustle and your grind". 

" It's all about who's the best, your swag, 
your game, your experience - I've been fortunate 
enough to go all over the world. . .you've always 
got to prove yourself. Someone like Lil Wayne, he 
don't have to no more, he sold a million records 
in the first week. . . but every day there's a new 
MC coming out, especially in Georgia, and I keep 
thinking, I gotta be sharper, I gotta be wittier. " 

And this is good, because they have the 
confidence to draw from more musical sources. 
"You got to realize that Jnerio's put out four, five 
albums," says Khujo. I've put out three solo albums 
too. And these are the kind of albums people make 
when their skills get exercised." 

On Georgiavania, the slow songs really stand 
out. There's the post-breakup 'I Didn't Mean To', 
which Khujo describes as sounding like "21st 
Century Prince" and 'Autopilot', a slick glide 
through a hustler's day with the palest coating 
of autotune wrapping the vocals. There's a lot of 
mid-Eighties synth, and even some shoegazey drone 
in the mix. "I love all that! " Jnerio says, "Cocteau 
Twins, Echo And The Bunny Rabbit..." (this is just 
affectionate, Jneiro knows who the Bunnymen are). 
The Cocteaus return the compliment: apparently, 
Robin Guthrie was going to play guitar on the 
record, but couldn't because of timing. "That was 
my bad," saysJneiro "But who knows? We'll see." 

Recently, Jneiro's been working with TV On The 
Radio's Dave Sitek, the producer better connected 
than MySpace'sTom was back in 2004. When 
I talk with Jneiro, he and Sitek are at some LA beach 
house -there's a party going on and Jneiro has to 
go out on the back deck to get decent reception. 

He's humbled by how this scene is worlds away 
from 'In The Red', an angry, dogged track about 
all of the people fucked over by the recession and 
struggling to survive. "There are less rich people 
in the world than people who don't have things, " 
Khujo adds, "We will relate to those people first. " 

12 | plan b 

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the void 

guided tour: sunn O))) 

Words: Frances Morgan 

Illustration: Kai Wong 

Metal's master masons show us 
round their new Grand Lodge 

Sunn 0))) do not create music so much as carve out 
inhabitable spaces from sound. For all the conceptual and 
performative trappings with which Stephen O'Malley and 
Greg Anderson furnish their recordings and live shows, it is 
this three-dimensional quality which brings us back to the 
spaces they open up via riff and amplification, like dazed 
explorers negotiating canyons and underground lakes. 
Recently those spaces have seemed more populous 
than before, as new members and sounds fill the duo's 
depersonalised darkness with ornate structures. In 
civilisation-building terms, this is called progress, and, as 
captured here on new album Monoliths And Dimensions, 
it's at its most optimistic, freshest stage. Oblique bowed- 
string harmonies cluster around carboniferous riffs, a harp 
and an oboe shimmer into deep-space and a voice cracks 
like old marble; and ideas abound through the hands of 
master craftsmen - Eyvind Kang, Steve Moore, Julian 
Priester and Oren Ambarchi, to name just a few. 


Attila Csihar narrates the titular hollow earth myth, also 
the name of a 1975 Miles Davis recording, in tones akin to 
a slow, dry planetary disembowelment. Strings rend, shiver 
and swarm. Silences hang heavy. 

Stephen O'Malley: "Attila might be the only person 
who has played with Sunn 0))) who's not familiar with 
Miles Davis, but he has a lot in common with him in terms 
of those esoteric things. This is the first time that Attila was 
in the studio with us when we were laying down the 
foundational parts. I think it might be one of the most 
accurate recordings of his vocal timbre that I've heard. 
There's parts where his vocal frequency is below the bass 
guitar and the low synthesiser." 

Greg Anderson: "We experimented with dynamics 
and silence, and playing at a quieter volume. That provided 
a nice contrast for the louder parts and made them seem 

Big Church 

Taking as its theme a medieval deconsecration ritual, 
Jessika Kenne/s a 1 1- female choir soars out of the guitars' 
foreboding tones - here supplemented by Dylan Carlson 
as well as Ambarchi - and Csihar's vocal exorcism into 
sharp, numinous light. 

O'Malley: "In the case of the choir, the lyrics that Attila 
chose were based on an old judgement from the Middle 
Ages church - a sort of maximum exile-from-the-church. 
But there's a twist to it: I think the spirit of the choir comes 
in to say that it's actually a proclamation of liberation from 
a philosophy or a definition of what spirituality shouldbe. 
That's a twist that Attila personifies, and the choir brings 
that out in a blissful way. 

"We focused on aspects that are similar to organ music 
by Messiaen - there are a lot of seconds and strange 
intervals. There was a specific interpretation that Eyvind 
Kang pulled out of the guitar parts. There are several layers 
- the original guitar parts that suggest the intervals and 
dissonance, [Steve Moore's] organ tracked on top of that, 
and eventually all the way to the choir. So the integration 
down to the guitars on that track is pretty interesting. . . 
the entire album has that unfolding quality." 

was about enterin 
_ew language, 
lich was music 
>ory and notatic 

Hunters And Gatherers 

Canters at an odd angle, kettle-drummed, through faintly 
Slavonic landscapes, Anderson 's snarled riff the ore from 
which Steve Moore's lowering horn section is distilled. 
Shostakovich with access to heavy amplification, 
a "man-choir" and a bag of Siberian shrooms, perhaps. 
Anderson: " I just started playing at this super-loud volume 
and came up with that riff. To me it was a nod to our roots: 
it's very Earth-inspired. I can never decide what my 
favourite track on the record is, but this one's up there, 

O'Malley: "Steve Moore's arrangement of the horn 
part needed to be credited. Randall Dunn and I arranged 
the percussion, along with Brad Mowen who was the 
player. The male voices were a collaboration of Joe 
Preston, William Herzog, me and Randall . . . I think it's very 
important [to credit arrangers]. All the stuff we've done 

is very harmonically rich - but with this record we've been 
able to find people to translate that to instruments like an 
oboe, or a bassoon, or a choir." 


Alice Coltrane's beguiling and often heavily orchestrated 
free-jazz combines dizzying psychedelic peaks with 
blissfully grooving meditations. Kang's arrangements 
recall her drifting planes and mantra-like repetitions. 
Guitar and bass provide elegant weight to the starry flights 
of fancy; a harp outro seals the deal. 

Anderson: "I got into Alice Coltrane through listening 
to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. It led me down the 
path to discover lots of other jazz, especially Miles Davis 
and Eric Dolphy. I'm also really into the fusion era, like 
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Return To Forever 
and Larry Coryell. Maybe not necessarily the technical 
aspect, but the vibe and aesthetic and just the freedom 

We put down the initial electric stutt, and Eyvind 
worked off that, producing scores for the additional 
instrumentation. That was the first time somebody 
sat down and worked out our metre. In working with 
arrangements my thinking has transformed -I'm very 
much more sensitive to detail, timing and pitch. With 
Khanate I always thought of things in architectural or 
geometrical terms. With this record, it was [about] entering 
a new language, which was music theory and notation. 
Working with Eyvind taught me these different blending 
techniques and roles instruments have. The timbre 
of an oboe is not necessarily meant to be an individual 
voice. It's supposed to be gluing together woodwinds 
and brass, for example." 

Does the exchange work the opposite way too, 
between you and the classical players? 

O'Malley: "What's critical was opening that doorway 
between us. With the [multiple] bass players there was 
one reference point that worked: lancu Dumitrescu, 
a Romanian composer who has done pieces for six to 

in contemporary music.The barrier is truly linguistic, and 
the illusion of high and low art." 

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It's easy to put a gig on. Find a nice venue, book 
a couple of bands, tell all your friends and sit tight as 
the cash starts rolling in. Of course, if you've every 
put on bands, you'll know a quite different story: 
endless soundchecks, nights of joyless flyering, 
long evenings sat on a cold stool praying for eight. . . 
more. . . punters. That's why it's so heartening - and, 
oh, OK, a teeny bit infuriating -to see someone 
doing it really fucking well. Active for five years, 
London's Upset The Rhythm have all but cornered 
the market for the music you love, packing out 
venues with adventurous bills and the right mix 
of DIY spirit and professional organisation. 

"We started with a bang, really," explains 
Chris Tipton, nominal spokesman for the Upset 
The Rhythm collective. " We wanted to see 
Deerhoof, who were doing a European tour, but 
like a lot of bands they were put off playing in the 
UK by rumours of bad pay and so on. 

"I'd moved to London from Shrewsbury, 
where there wasn't really a music scene, and 
I was disappointed by London in terms of gigs. 
So we hired an Italian wine bar, thinking it couldn't 
be that difficult. We asked the band to come at 
noon, because we had no idea how long these 
things took, so we had about five hours to kill over 
Italian food with Deerhoof, and it ended up being 
the best gig ever." 

The next show they booked was a last-minute 
gig with the Gossip. "Needles was owned by this 
Turkish guy, and he said he'd kill us if people didn't 
come, but we had 300 people queuing around the 
block. It was about 1 00 capacity, but 250 got in. We 
only really intended to do that one gig, but we were 
so encouraged by the response that we carried on. " 

Five years on, and Upset The Rhythm have 
grown in all directions. They book national tours; 
there's a label, releasing CDs and vinyl from the likes 
of Chops, High Places, and Death Sentence: Panda ! 
They've broadened their remit, promoting shows 
by everyone from day-glo Baltimore DIY outfits like 
Dan Deacon and Ponytail to the brutalist noise of 
Wolf Eyes and Prurient. They put on the nights that 

'We agreed to put 
the bands and the 
audience first' 

the overseas bands want to play. "Upset The 
Rhythm bring such a love and fury to the shows they 
put on that it makes us, as a touring band, want to 
play the best show we've ever played, " says Randy 
Randall of No Age. 

UTR bring over so many American bands - is 
that where they think interesting music is mainly 
coming from now? "We have a ratio of about 
80% American bands, 10% Japanese bands and 
therestfromtheUK," explains Tipton. "We actually 
think there are some great bands here, and 
that's why we decided to put on Yes Way! 
[UTR's two-day festival dedicated to the UK 
undeground- see right] but if they headlined every 
night people wouldn't come. Things that are on 
your doorstep tend to get taken for granted, and 
this way we get local bands to support bands who 

might just be here for one night, so people come 
to see them. 

"The other thing that's important to me is that 
even though we promote DIY music, I actually have 
a problem with DIY. It's almost become a tag for 
unprofessional behaviour, no pay, bands coming 
on late, no equipment. When we met there were 
1 of us, and I made a scroll on this piece of baking 
parchment, like the 1 commandments. We agreed 
to put the bands and the audience first. The bands 
in terms of making sure we paid and covered flights 
for bands on the label, or fronted cash for those 
who needed it to come over, and the audience in 
terms of making sure gigs were on time and bands 
were always interesting to and exciting. It was 
a reaction against anything that was too boring 
or static". 

Who decides which bands are interesting? Is it 
a democratic procedure? 

"It used to be more like that when we started 
out and we were all at uni, but now everyone's got 
jobs and we had casualties who've had kids and 
now go to bed at 9pm. There's still five or six of 
us involved, like Claire, who is my fiancee and takes 
the photos, and Luke who does the website, but 
I'm the only one still doing it full time. These days 
I just book bands I like. Also, bands stay with us and 
recommend other people." 

And the best gig ever? 

Chris: " Probably that Deerhoof gig" . 

Dan walks in and votes for Afrirampo: "It was 
like discovering a new kind of music - I'd never seen 
anyone play like that, pure instinct and joy. " 

Chris: "It was really primal. They had been to the 
Congo and played with pygmies and got malaria." 

16| plan b 

the void 

Upset The Rhythm's latest 
innovation would seem to be 
as much about spaces as sounds. 
Yes Way! took place in a former 
car showroom in Peckham, while 
a May show from Baltimore's all- 
female a capella chant group Lexie 
Mountain Boys will take place in St 
Augustine's Tower in Hackney. 
"There's a medieval spire there, and 
a crypt with a massive coffin," 
enthuses Chris. "We don't have our 
own PA, but we hate to get stuck on 
venues. We prefer to do shows that 
aren't just about plugging a band into 
the sound system". 


rhythm nation 

Words: Thorn Gibbs, Louis 
Pattison, George Taylor 

Yes Way! 

London Auto Italia 

Arriving at Yes Way! feels like stumbling 
into an ATP refugee camp. Boys in 
checked shirts are huddling outside, 
inside pale girls refuse to take off their 
excellent macs while they browse seven- 
inches. Vampire Blues emerge 
seamlessly from the throng onto the 
Way stage, suggesting that a high 
percentage of those already here are also 
performing. Harmonium drone provides 
a bed for pastoral guitar shredding and 
a drummer skittling about in fear of 
finding a groove. The crowd stand in 
demarcated pockets, reverent of Katie 
Guggenheim's art sellotaped to the floor. 

The chilly Auto Italia is made 
hospitable by the grins on the faces 
of anyone taking money from you. Those 
manning the door, merch, and drink stalls 
are next-level friendly, imbued with the 
giddy enthusiasm that seems to have 
willed this event into existence. I run into 
a friend who hadn't heard of UTR, but 
was excited about a festival on his South 
London doorstep. He is critical of the 
identikit crowd, and what he perceives 
as miserablism. I frown at him over my 
black-rimmed glasses, stroke my beard, 
and suggest he's just paranoid. 

On the Yes stage, A Middle Sex 

create restless v 

vesot ambience, 

taking in vocal snips, galloping drums, 
and whistling ear-assault frequencies. 
Exposing myself to the last slither of sun 
during Please's set, I listen outside. 
A passing kid joins in with toy cymbals, 
while a stoned guy improvises John 
Lydon vocals over their psychedelic 
pattern-drawing. This strangeness feels 
closer to the spirit of UTR than the neat 
demographic inside. (TG) 

I rock in just in time for Shitty 
Limits, bolshy punk rock from some bit 
of grey countryside within phlegming 
distance of the capital. Easy to love, this 
bunch - each song is more or less Wire's 
'1 2XU' with more brambly ramalama 

guitars, and they have this particularly 
effective dynamic trick which involves 
the band stopping on a dime and the 
lead singer using the silence to bark 
something incomprehensible, like a red- 
faced Sergeant Major issuing commands 
shortly after receiving a anaesthetic 
injection to the mouth. But pick of the 
fest for me is Graffiti Island. Fronted 
by some sardonic Greg Proops-looking 
motherfucker with a cute girl dressed 
as a panda on drums and a guy wringing 
angular riffs from guitar and bass, they 
summon up a creepy sort of Beat 
Happening clatter, like distant sing-songs 
from haunted playgrounds. (LP) 

Letter to the editor: next time 
you convince 500+ people to spend 
a weekend in a freezing cold concrete 
auto-shop, please provide seating for 
more than 20 people and a raised stage 
so that people behind the first three rows 

Ldii bee wnu b pidyniy. i in umy upbti, 

you understand, cause this was a full- 
throttle cavalcade of righteousness. 
The sheer energy of most of the bands 
applauds UTR's attempt at exhibiting 
how a host of influences - the noise rock 
of Skin Graft/Load (Peepholes, Teeth! ! !, 
Beards), developments in drone (Family 
Battlesnake), new psychedelic pop 
(Gentle Friendly) - are manifesting 
themselves in the UK underground. 

Meanwhile, the two standout sets 
for me are from bands outside of any 
recognisable influence. Part Wild 
Horses Mane On Both Sides incite 
a hushed violence built from delay- 
pedaled flute and a contact mic clipped 
to a drum rim. Improvisation with an ear 

playing with it. On the other stage, 
Liverpool's aPaTt perform controlled 
anarchy, a surrealist comedy of barked 
nonsense and a jack-in-the-box 
approach to musical surprises. 
Punctuating lunatic pop with death 
metal may sound like the tickled fancy 
of Mike Patton, but aPaTt lack that 
artist's grating irony, with added charm 
and humour that wins them the most 
enthusiastic responses I eavesdrop 
on all weekend. (GT) 

plan b 1 17 

the void 

st vincent 

Words: Joseph Stannard 

Act Two for the singer-songwriter not 
afraid to express herself, obliquely 

"I was reading a lot of David Mamet and 
watching a lot of films, secretly wishing that 
I could make films instead of making music. So 
I kind of approached the wholething thinking 
of every element, like, the woodwind, the 
guitar, the voice, like a cast, thinking of it in 
really theatrical terms, like I was a director." 

St Vincent is Annie Clark is St Vincent. She 
was born not 24 hours from Tulsa, but right 
there in the damn place. She currently resides 
in Brooklyn but rest assured, she doesn't bang 
pots and pans together in a dopey yet well- 
meaning attempt at making ersatz world 
music. Phew! As she points out, she's not 
a filmmaker and while she creates what might 
be described as pop music, she's not really 
a songwriter either. Although Clark would 
never use the term herself, she's a composer. 
There's a difference. Clark's second album, 
Actor, is a reminder that not everyone can 
do this, and perhaps an oblique hintthat 
some people should just give up trying. 

"There's not a whole lot of conflict in 
watching a winner win. So yeah, a lot of the 
characters in there are big ol' losers! Who 
I empathise with. Who I might be. Whatever!" 

Like 2007's immaculate Marry Me, Actor 
seems pretty on the outside when in fact it 
is, in ways barely perceptible, quite wrong. 

"John Congleton, who helped produce 
the record, and I, we were talking about 
Suicide, how they used crappy analogue drum 
machine beats. There's something agitating 
about it because it's slightly off-kilter. So with 
'The Stranger', we were going for this thing 
where it's like, 'Oh, it's just a house beat, a bass 
drum keeping time' but actually the hi-hat 
is just a 32nd note after, so you can't ever really 
rest. The overall effect is 'I'm uncomfortable 
and I don't know why'. That to me is so 
exciting and that sort of... general anxiety 
comes naturally to me; 'Things are so 
beautiful... what's lurking around the corner 
that could be terrible?' It might be my Irish 
Catholic upbringing. Irish nerves." 

It doesn't have to be like that. It's just that 
Annie really likes it when it is. 

"I'm certainly a fan of things that are just 
undeniably, totally beautiful, without that 
sort of sucker-punch, and Ithinkthatthereare 
a couple of songs on here that are just that. 
But again, I find a little bit of creepiness really 
satisfying, and what I find creepy isn't, like, 
guitars cranked up to 1 0, but being subtly 
unsettling. That sort of pervasive unease 
is more exciting than blood and guts. Scary 
is silence sometimes. Creeping. Creepy." 

Inspired by Dutch electronic artist Solex, 
Annie Clark began recording her own music 
in herteens. So, following membership of 
The Polyphonic Spree and Sufjan Stevens' 

rvasive unease i 
ore exciting than 
ood and guts' 

ensemble, St Vincent represents a return 
to Clark's primary focus. While her music is 
crafted with the same care and consideration 
that characterises the work of Harry Nilsson, 
Jeff Lynne and Plush's Liam Hayes, she doesn't 
necessarily do things properly. This seems 
to trouble her a little. 

"Sometimes I don't even feel like I'm a 
songwriter. Sometimes I don't know what I do. 
That sounds stupid but I think I did everything 
on this record backwards. I arranged all the 
music first, and was really intent upon, y'know, 
'Should that clarinet be a D or a C?' People get 
like, 'Second record -I'm going to prove that 
I'm a serious musician!' But then I sort of went, 
'Well, I don't know if I am, but it doesn't 

matter, I like what I'm doing.' So the words 
came last. And the track called 'Marrow', 
I didn't touch any instruments to write that 
song, I wrote it all in Garageband- every note 
with my mouse! So I don't know right now, 
in the period after this record, that I feel like 
a traditional songwriter with a guitar and 
something to say. I did so much of this on 
a computer that it feels intangible." 

One of the most immediately engaging 
things about Annie Clark asidefrom her 
music is the fearlessness with which she uses 
her own remarkable face. It's right there, on 
both album covers, confronting the potential 
listener. Daring them. 

"Well, I'm a big fan of those iconic 
images. Like Bowie and Dylan. ..I'm not 
comparing myself to them, but they always 
put themselves on record covers, and I was 
thinking about the LPsleeve and continuing 
this tradition. ..because I couldn't think 
of anything else exactly that I could use. I also 
think that, again, it's a little bit jarring... 

"And I like that." 

18 1 plan b 




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the void 

don't stop go 

Words: Ringo P Stacey 

Meet Izza Kizza, the blog- 
rocking rapper who calls himself 
# Mr Next Year' 



"Have you ever tried to get a man in a catsuit 
through customs with no ID?" 

It's a rhetorical question. Georgian native 
Terry Davis, currently aka Izza Kizza, is flowing 
unusually hard for an off-stage rapper. Usually 
MCs as a species are chill in interview, as if 
gathering strength for the next public verbal 
assault, but not Kizza. He speaks like he raps: 
relentless, enthusiastic and reflective in 
turn, but always urgent. This man wants to 
communicate and ignite, not just fill space 
as obligated. 

"It was the most ridiculous thing," 
he explains, "so we did it. At South By 
Southwest my hype man, he wore a Tony 
The Tiger full bodysuit. And it was a hit, it 
was ridiculously funny." 

These things are important. No whims, this 
man has experience, wisdom. Kizza has been 
rapping off and on for 1 7 years, since he was 
1 2. His first shot at the big time came four years 
back when, under the name Young Country, 
he released one single through archaic 
conglomerate Universal. But the real artistic 
break was hooking up with production crew 
Karriem Mack, Shaun Owens and Corte Ellis 
(Soul Diggaz) a year prior to that. Working 
primarily in R&B, they'd served tracks to 
Mary J Blige, Tweet, Britney, and Corte's 
cousin, Missy Elliot. Looking for a rapper to 
make explicit the latent hip-hop DNA of their 
jittery post-Organized Noise, post-Statik Major 
electro tinted opuses, they chanced upon a 
perfect fit with Kizza. 

Absorb last years free mixtape Kizzaland 
for proof. Compiled and mixed by former 
Fac/er scribe Nick Catchdubs- whose Fools 
Gold label most recently hit big with Kid 
Cudi - it's coherently schizoid. Catchdubs 
confirms the obvious. "What stood out 
to me was the diversity, from hyperactive 
bangers like 'Hello' to the near-gospel 
of 'Testimonial' to straight-up trunk rap 
like 'Flippin In The Rizzide'." 

But it's mostly about the voice. Check 
the elastic stretching on 'Here I lz', playfully 
switching from doubletimeto carefully 
enunciated speech rewinding furiously, 
"Mama - says - when - 1 - was - born - the - 
umbilical - cord - ran -to- a- microphone ", 
then pitch-shifting natural (up to strained 
falsetto) and artificial (screwed down to 
a grunge) for the cartoon-silly chorus, 
"I'm SCHeeeeeeMING!, I'm CreeeeeepiNG". 
Follow through other key moments: the 
random reference to "Unabomber punani" 
on 'I'm The Izza Kizza'; the priceless freestyle 
putdown "Picture yourself in my faeces in 
three more days". Add shards of honesty which 
make the whole damn thing click. Reflecting 
on a colourful past (crack dealer, housebreaker) 

e future of labels L 
about creativity" 

in 'Georgie Porgie', he comes to a sober 
conclusion: "/ was an inconsiderate prick". 

"I try to not set up boundaries for myself 
when I'm doing my music," is his modest take 
on this flurry of styles. But he's cautious, having 
been burned again by the system "Kizzaland 
was kind of left-f ieldish. I loved it, but I'm trying 
to learn the formula for all round the board." 
Last year signed to Interscope under 
Timbaland's Mosley Music Group, this year 
he's independent again having been let go by 
the same people who thought Chris Cornell's 
crossover abortion Scream was a good idea. 

Thankfully Kizza had folks onside who 
believe. Catchdubs is, as ever, on the money. 
"It boils down to making honest music. If you 
get some weird-ass beats because that's what 

you think a blog wants to hear, you might 
be limiting yourself to that audience. But if you 
get weird-ass beats because you're a dude who 
LOVES rapping over weird-ass beats, people 
will ride for you regardless." His perspective 
on the industry is similarly enlightened and 
highlights the areas where indies excel, 
confirming Kizza is better off right where he 
is: "The future of labels is all about creativity. 
Who will find fresh ways to discover and 
nurture new artists? Who will come up with 
exiting partnerships and surprising marketing 
ideas? I'm less concerned with sales numbers 
and more excited about how to bring new 
musical ideas to the forefront." 

In Kizza's case, this is marketing not 
as cynical manipulation but effective 
communication, toying with the tension 
between terrestrial roots and orbital 
imagination. Having a stage show that 
allows people to relate and gawp at the same 
time, rocking Tony The Tiger and white NASA 
suits. "They signify difference and change. 
The game is flooded. I have to have something 
that goes along with the music. I don't care 
how many artists are out, I'm gonna stand 
out in my own way." 

Which is why news that the upcoming 
Wizard Oflzz mix sees Kizza headed in a 
more refined, traditionally hip-hop direction 
shouldn't be cause for concern. "I try to just not 
let people get it twisted, because I am street. 
I am directly out of the hood, occasionally 
finding myself waking up in the hood." 

Catchdubs, who's on board again, sees 
it as a necessary progression, "It would have 
been boring to duplicate the feel of Kizzaland. 
Lyrically and aesthetically he has the same 
charm -the Wizard Of Oz theme is a loose 
one, but there's this undercurrentthroughout 
of a real journey. People are starting to feel 
him, so whereto next? You can tell he's 
working up to his defining moment." 

20 1 plan b 

"the UK's hippest festival... 
the definitive 
boutique festival" 


"a breathtaking setting" 


"eccentricity is the 
beating heart of 
this festival" 

21st / 22nd / 23rd AUGUST 2009 





A Holiday Ticket at only £30 plus a Festival Ticket enables you to arrive on Monday 17th August and camp for a full 7 days 
in Glanusk Park. You will be free to enjoy the many activities on offer in the surrounding area with friends and family. 

For more information visit Buy a ticket at 

All Night Bonfires | Einstein's Garden | 24 Hour Bars | Secret Gigs | Family Friendly Atmosphere | Theatre 

Comedy Tent | Film Tent | Kid's Field | Live Aerosol Arts Installation | Wishing Tree | Local Ales & Ciders 

Fantastic Range of Gourmet Food I Massage & Therapy I Cocktails 


Visit Wale* 

the void 

Words: Tom Howard, Louis 
Pattison, George Taylor and 

llustrations: KateyJean Harvey 

A rare mono-gendered meet fails to generate the levels 
of testosterone needed to review anyone to death 

Dirty Projectors 

Stillness Is The Move (Domino) 

Our January 2008 cover stars return, post- 
David Byrne and Bjorkcollabos.Two 
entirely separate albums (on entirely 
separate labels) due this year. 

Kick: I've been calling this open-ended 
ethno-R&B. On Twitter. I'm pretentious. 
Louis: It definitely has a smoother, cleaner 
sound than Rise Above. Dave has really left 
the girls space to sing. 
Tom:The vocal is almost Beyonce. 
Kick: She hits notes you won't be hearing 
again today. 

Louis: It's so close to saccharine but 
somehow shies away- 1 think just because 
of the oddity of the arrangements. Long 
outro, like a massage. I think this one could 
suck in the Vampire Weekend fans. 
George: I'm wondering if the conceptthis 
time around is direct engagement with hot 
summer streets -this definitely follows the 
snapping groove of the live show. 
Kick:The African guitars add slightly 
disruptive shards of colour. 
Tom: It's the kind of song that I might 
pretend not to like if someone put it on and 
said it was someone I thought I didn't like. 
I am shallow. 

George: So am I deep for liking it? 
Tom: I like it. But I still feel shallow. 


Everybody's Talking, No-one's 
Listening (Subsoldiers) 

Similarities between Caspa and John Peel. 
Both radio-deejayed. Both made Fabric 
mix. Both almost became basketball 
players, no wait, scratch that one. 

Louis: Dubstep wobbler currently breaking 
out on the bigger radio stations. Not for 
yr dubstep aesthetes. 

George: Haha, I thought it was gonna be like 
"do you wanna go faster! " in the intra - but, 

alas, it's "do you wanna wobble yr cheeks" - 

this is ridiculously, uh, shit. 

Tom: Dubstep artists should just avoid vocals 

altogether, maybe. 

Kick: Cacophonous aggregation of ye olde 

ryng tones. 

Louis: I liked the Fabric mix Caspa did with 

Rusko, while acknowledging it probably 

heralded the beginning of a bad thing for 

dubstep - the slide towards yr big beat/beer 

monster club fillers... 

Kick: For dubstep, there's not a lot 

of atmosphere. 

George: It's way too playful. 

Tom: Yeah, and empty. It sounds like a 

dubstep box-ticking exercise- wobble: 

check, dumb shouts: check. 

Louis: Poked in the face by some mid-range. 

Kick: It's not even that fun, which is a bit 

unforgivable if it's dumb. 

JeSuis Animal 

The Mystery Of Marie Roget (Angular) 

If you need further tips as to their sound, 

add together their international labels 

Perfect Pop (Norway) and Lost And 

Lonesome (Australia). 

Kick: Lyrics inspired by Edgar Allen Poe. 

Video draws from Buhuel. 

Louis: Clicky. Vintage. Sweet.The other side 

of the world, an Everett True stirs. . . 

George: I'm always ensnared by usage 

of French. 

Kick: I liked the interview we ran with these 

guys where she said she'd be in some Nordic 

coastal storm with The Smiths on her 

headphones thinking 'how exotic. . . ' 

Tom: I'm always put off by the use of French, 

just... why? 

Louis: "At nine o'clock on Saturday she fell 

into the church, never came baaaack. . . " 

George: Recording's quite spacious, good 

narrative drive to this... 

Tom: Good use of an alarm clock, too. 

Kick:They're real classicists. I bet they could 
draw you graphs around their tastes. 
Tom: Surely no one in Norway would 
understand their name (apart from the 
French speakers). 

Kick: I bet they have lots of original 
equipment, too. They'd be hateful if they 
weren't lovable. 

George: Outro's pretty good - incessant 
flautist collides with minor high-end 
thrashout. Overall, a bit too trad in its 
structure to properly excite. 

Maximo Park 

The Kids Are Sick Again (Warp) 

Named after a place in Cuba, itself 
named after the revolutionary military 
commander who overturned their thus-far 
conventional tactics in favour of 'the 
machete charge'. 

Tom: Maximo Park must love being on Warp. 
George: I know I do not like these guys. 
Louis: I liked Maximo Park first of all. They 
had good tunes and a slightly sleazy promise. 
George: Christ, it writes itself at this point. 
Louis: But they've toned down the oddity, 
the Jarvis-y edge. It's just got. . .normal. 
George:Their command of pace is anti-epic. 
Tom: If it wasn't for the noises it would be 
stunningly bland... it's tripe, like the kind of 
middle-of-the-range car you'd buy if you'd 
bought the same brand before, liked it, and 
weren't prepared to take a risk on another. 
George:The chord changes crumble like 
stale bread. 

Kick: I suppose 1 7 year-olds who've escaped 
most adolescent headfuckery need anthems 


88:88 (Ekleroshock) 

Among the more interesting post-Justice 
artistes is this loner, whose Ringu 

videotape plus black pyramid aesthetic 
suggests horror film marathons were 
a formative influence. 

Louis: Justice should have really put a patent 

on that beat. 

George: I can get cosmic to this fer shure. 

Oh -nice finger snaps. 

Louis: Nice tumbling organ melodies — 

a lot of this French disco stuff is toying 

with schmaltz. 

Tom: You could do good dancing to it. 

George: OK, this has built pretty great. It's 

not sticking to one layer for too long is it? 

Kick: I think he's really clever, compositionally 

- combining cinematic (someone had to say 

it) flourishes with a beat that he reserves the 

right to shift - or remove - at any point. 

George: It's that sort of Moroder's 'The 

Chase'-on- fire sound -tried in vain to find 

the areas of Paris that fit. 

Tom: It's very crudely sinister, aggressive. 

[Enter: ridiculous beats] HAVE IT! 

George: But we're getting the romantic 

harmonies too. 

Kick: A range of ideas matched by really 

ferocious tech skillz. 

George: Super-instantaneous. 

Louis: Still think I'd probably die if I tried 

to listen to a whole set of this. 

Kick: Yr conscious mind would get overridden 

pretty soon. Body would take over. 

Theoretical Girl 

Rivals (Memphis Industries) 

We suggest pointing out you're very aware 
of Glenn Branca'soriginalTheoretical Girls 

any time this actual female is mentioned, 
accruing muso points to fill yr loneliness. 

Kick: It's like. . .madrigal-goes-to-indie- 
disco? But her vocal's mixed SO high. 
Louis: A song about. . . lost friendship? 
George: Her delivery's got feeling to it. 
Louis: Quite well-wrought. Strings don't feel 
like an afterthought. 

22 | plan b 

the void 

It doesn't ask me to think, 
but I want to think. I think 

Tom: The simplicity is attractive. Not too 

much of anything 

Kick: It's a fine line between delicately pretty 

and really boring. 

Tom:The chorus could get tedious. 

George: Reminds me of the drifting 

earnestness of Charlotte Gainsbourg's last 

record. Vaguely disco, vaguely ethereal. 

Tom: I can guarantee I won't remember this 

song when I wake up tomorrow. 

Virus Syndicate 

Believe (Contagious) 

Introducing the first in the Manchester 
grime team's 'OutbreakTrilogy'. By the 
time you read this, YOU'RE ALREADY DEAD 
(well, you could at least pretend. . .) 
Kick:An unexpectedly sensitive side. I can 
imagine them playing this to an empty room. 
Tom: Much less aggressive than a virus. 
George:The piano notes have that spooky 
childhood nursery vibe, like message from 
beyond da grave... 

Louis: It's totally shorn of any low-end feel - 
they've really diversified. 
Kick:They are kind of bossed to the edges by 
the fairly imperious almost d'n'b soul vocal. 
Louis: Lyrical concerns: despair, losing one's 
self in alcohol, nice lady as salvation. 
Kick: B-side is back to business.THROB. 
Louis: Much more MRK1. 
George: I can bubble finally! 
Kick:They've cheered up suspiciously fast. 
I like how listless the synthbass is. 
George:Thechompy jaw of 2am, sweat too 
cold to move. 
Tom: My left leg likes it. 
Kick: How about yr right? 
Tom: Not so much. 

Ill Ease 

The Whole Sha-Bang! (Parlour) 

Scores points for selling both branded 
pants (introducing awkwardness into any 

encounter) and photobooks in her online 
merch emporium. 

Louis: Lo-fi drums and a sorta ska guitar 
thing there. Wow check the sustain on that 
guitar- it's like she touched it once and 
it won't. Shut. Up. 
Kick: Bubblegum gone bad. 
Tom: III Ease has a knack of being repetitive 
without wearing anything she does out, 
always moves on just in time. 
George: Motivated slacker - 1 get contrasty 
hearing this, likeWavves. I'm officialy 
enjoying the tune, but not into the aesthetic 
of 'walking down the street'. 
Kick:The yelps are almost Jive Bunnyesque, 
but very recontextualised. 
Louis: Lo-fi drums and a sorta ska guitar 
thing there. Sorry, I said that earlier. But 
I can't think of anything else to say. 
Kick:The bass is ripe like a basket of plums. 
Tom: I'm quite into unnecessary over- 
pronunciation of the words 'want' and 'like'. 
George: Lazy hazy 7/1 1 bedroom-in-a- 
garage words I think. I feel 5 per cent more 
cool listening to it tho. 
Kick: World's most inarticulate love song? 
George: Dunno, mebbe. I like this, it hits 
pleasurable buttons. It doesn't ask me to 
think, but I want to think. I think. 
Kick: Yeah -this is dumb, but also fun. 
Always OK. 


Bollyhouse (Exploited) 

At the time of writing this review, we had 
no idea he also had a Native American- 
sampling track called 'Tatanka'. Name of 
label makes this amusing. 
Kick: Cutest name of day. Hewwo, 
I'm Minimow. 

Louis: Press release describes him as an 
"Italian badboy". 

George: Viably ethnic. I could see this as a 
segue in a techno set, but it's not a standout. 

Tom: Apart from Dirty Projectors, this is the 

track that has made me want to listen to the 

album most, which I guess is SUCCESS. 

Kick: Simple but quite nice, I think. 

George: I'm too used toTimbaland 

and Magoo sampling Indian flutes, 

I can't diversify. 

Tom:This is hilarious. It's insane that they 

don't play this in Indian restaurants. 

Louis: You would dance to this with arms like 

snakes. Snakes refusing to be charmed. 

Kick: Playing this in a restaurant wd have 

people eating like automatons. 

George: if you translate the flute tune into a 

wobbly bassline we're looking at Shackleton 

territory. I want more fear here I think. 

Kick: Fork-chew-swallow-drink-fork... 

Louis: Choke -perish... 

Tom: Rebirth -fork- chew-swallow... 


The Graveyard Shift (Too Pure Singles 

Yr Void ed just unwittingly Googled 

'friendship', got hearts, flowers, ducklings 

and bear cubs. They should sue the guitar 

act sullying their purity (although that 

wouldn't be very friendly). 

Louis:AbeVigoda-ish. But with clean guitars. 

Kick: Lilting guitars meet unfriendly buzz and 

what's-the-fucking-rush drums. 

Louis: And the distorto-havoc on the vox. 


Louis: Good band »» 5 months »» 


Kick: A bit uptight, though, isn't it? A bit 

migraine on the beach. 

Louis: While Abe Vigoda are like 

rolling waves. 

George: Drums are too rushed I think, less 

hurry more furry, soften it down 

Tom: I like the hurry. 

George:That vocals not having as good a 

time as the music, mismatched. 

Kick: it is pretty decently unwatered 

down, though... 

Louis: Nah, I don't really like this. It feels a bit 

bolted together. 

George:There's none of the joy or spirit. 

The Emperor Machine 

Black Ken (DC Recordings) 

Their MySpace photo feed alternates 
synthporn with Dr Who, which tells you all 
you need to know. No? Oh, OK, read on. . . 

Tom: Cinematic. 

George: There's afe//A7/fe/y something 

behind you. 

Louis: I always think it must be quite hard 

to write for dance mags. I would find myself 

writing the same words over and over. . . 


Kick: [trailer]"Giorgio Moroder was in a 

baaad mood. And someone was going to 

pay." [/trailer] 

George: I think I've only just noticed 

there's a beat here - everything is so 

incessantly rhythmic. 

Louis:This and Danger, both quite kitschy 

in melody but married to darkness. 

Tom: DRAMA. Fight scene. With laser guns. 

Kick: Yeah, I bet the stage show is all 

laser harps and pouty faces. Doing Space 

Egyptian dancing.Trained leopard on a 

shiny chain. 

Louis: Leopard opens its mouth. Glitter 

falls out. 

George: It's a sound you cant get wrong, 

I think. We could all try and make a song like 

this latertonight if you like. 

Louis: OK. I've only got my uke though. 

singles of the month 

Tom, Louis and Kick: 

Dirty Projectors, 'Stillness IsThe Move' 
George: Danger, '88:88' 

plan b 1 23 

the void 

when we meet 

Words: Alex Macpherson and kicking_k 

New musicto degrade yr whole 
attention span with 


Right now, this Belgian duo's remixes mark some 
sort of apotheosis for nu-Balearica. Like Jacques 
Lu Cont a few years ago, everything they touch is 
turning to the finest, purest gold - and, given the 
way seemingly every aspect of their music is geared 
towards feeling decadently hedonistic, this is a 
particularly apt metaphor. This is pristine white 
clothes, designer shades and endless good times. 

Cooly G 

The funky umbrella continues to provide endless 
bounty in 2009. South London's Cooly G is a semi- 
pro footballer, a single mother and the creator 
of abstract, dreamy, ocean-deep productions. Like 
Cassy, her German techno counterpart, she also 
decorates them with a sprinkling of sultry vocal 
hooks; her Dub Organizer EP last year brought 

her to the attention of Hyperdub boss Kode9, and 
her astonishing new single 'Narst' is due for release 
on his label, 

Diamond Watch Wrists 

And before you could say 'supergroup', Prefuse 73 
umped in a rogue monorail with Zach Hill and they 
were ghost, sparking Stardust down on the road's 
early hours, all madrigal and oh ouch drums, all half- 
heard phrases like graffiti spidering from puddles, 
slipping, curving, slowing, impacting the side of 
Warp HQ like an orchid, coming soon in the real 
world, and so on, oh you know. 

V j Ec^k aWmOr 

Electrik Red 

Once a staple of the charts, the girl group is 

vr 3v. 

currently in need of resurrecting - and who better 
to sort it out than R&B super-producer The-Dream, 
fresh off his own album of the year? Naomi, Sarah, 
Lesley and Binkie are Electrik Red; their imminent 

t>j9 ^^L ^^ 


A streetsier name destined by design to be traded at bus 
stops seems to agree with the five scratchers that used to roll 
under Mirror! Mirror! (non-Brooklyn chapter). What starts 
at punk funk, pukes up the sophistication, gets distracted 
from well-tempered rhythm and thence messy on large 
amounts of whatever's cheap. Best is that they're clearly 
still growing and, on recent evidence likely to get more 
awkwardly forceful, more hormonally jittery before the 

Chose Chaton 

France might always have an inexplicable 
deafpatch re: le rock, but brutalistsynths 
have turned outto be exactly the ingredient 
needed to reload the chanson. So: a 
ponyplay enthusiast (possibly) laments 
autotunefully over ever-expanding drones 
that chime like a magnetic field, wears 
a flower in his hair, pouts through his beard. 
One dance number seems to be about 
a bygone surrealist painter, another an 
unhealthily saccharine funeral for teenage 
years. Let's call it boho-f luo. Let's go find 
where they're doing it and lose ourselves 
away from all this modern choredom. 

debut album is titled, 
brilliantly, How To Be 
A Lady (Volume 1); and 
among the answers to 
that question are 'Drink 
In My Cup', a swooning, 
disorientating paean 
to getting completely 
wasted; the sugar-rush conflict of 
'So Good'; and the merciless 'We Fuck 
You', on which they intone the title like 
a gang of sexual vigilantes. 


Amid the nonsense written about the 
new wave of post-dubstep producers, 
from claiming non-existent ketamine 
connections to labelling the genre 
'wonky' (ugh) in the first place, 
what often gets overlooked is just 
how beautiful the music can be. This 
Bristolian's productions are so saturated 
in feeling that it's luxurious. Space is key, 
but he's unafraid to drench the music 
in strings, tactile pianos and winding 
sax motifs which all go straight for the 
emotional jugular, 

Nicki Minaj 

It's been a while since a female emerged 
who could spit as hard as Nicki Minaj. 
The Queens native is signed to Lil 
Wayne's Cash Money label; she 
possesses a clipped, precise flow, a 
penchantfor slipping into irresistible 
patois, surreal wordplay and endless 
q u ota b I es : "I lea ve dips in ya head like 
a beautician " , "I get more head than 
a guillotine", "You know I pop-pop-pop 
it like a pistol; that's how I keep my 
wrists lookin' like a disco." Check out 'Beam Me Up 
Scotty', her remix of Beyonce's 'Single Ladies' and 
her guest-spot on Gucci Mane's 'Shopaholic' 
in particular, 


Upcoming dancehall MC Timberlee is a card. 
One minute she's irrepressible and playful (her ditzy 
fashion girl impression on 'Heels'); next, she's raw 
as fuck ('Backdoor Delivery', which is exactly the 
metaphor you think it is). She also blogs of her 
second place in a Jamaican Celebrity Chicken Cook- 
Off ("It sure as hell isn't last like some other artist 
who claim dem can cook and the ppl dem a seh 
dem chicken nuh have no colour! "), and her joint 
mixtape with Tifa and Natalie Storm, 3 The Hard 
Way is a must-hear, 




Long awaited debut album from bona fide pop 
genius Esser. Featuring the killer singles 
'I Love You', 'Work It Out', 'Satisfied' and 
the anthem 'Headlock'. 

Out 4th May CD/DL/LTD12" 

miles benjamin anthony robinson 


Ske Spinning Sop 

Luscious debut for Transgressive Records from 
this legendary artist. A 70 minute folk-based 
Odyssey that will delight for years to come. 
Features 'In the Morning', 'Sorrow's Army' 
and 'Feel Alright'. 

Out 11th May CD/DL/LTD 2x12" 


SWoiles Shenjamin Jbithony Siobinson 

The phrase "best kept secret" could have been 
invented for this genius Brooklynite. Featuring 
members of Grizzly Bear and TV on the Radio, 
this debut album will be the one you recommend 

o all your friends. Featuring 'Buriedfed' 

nd 'Woodfriend'. 

Out 18th May CD/CD + bonus EPfrom 
Rough Trade shops 

Visit for news, 
offers, gifts and a wealth of audio- visual treats. 

1 ■ - \ 

Words: HayleyAvron 

Hailing from Chicago, Icy Demons have hit upon 
a goldmine of a sound. Miami Ice (their last album, 
now released in the UK by the Leaf Label) radiates fun 
times like UV rays; it's oil for arthritic hips that don't 
c/odancing. Nowhere near as chilling as their name 
suggests, Icy Demons are instead the band as tropical 
behemoth; funky and soulful, caring none for the 
parameters of sound or genre. 

The latest in a slew of bands letting us bask in their 
virtual holiday vibes, Icy Demons melt alongside 
AbeVigoda, Gang Gang Dance and These Are Powers 
in their continent-hopping improvs. Led by dense 
synths, 'Centurion' sounds like seriously stoned and 
slowed-down Calypso, while the finale, 'Crittin' Down 
To Babas' is all Eighties funk and hip-hop, transported 
way into the Bronx. 

The band's protagonist Griffin Rodriguez -aka 
Blue Hawaii - explains the gestation period of an 
Icy Demons song: " It's important to be able to 
improvise, to make with what you have. The feeling 
usually comes instantly from something being played 
on a particular instrument and then we just go where 
it takes us - as we arrange for example. The sound 
of the instruments is always important because it 
evokes a feeling in what the performer is doing, it tells 
you what to play. Then with the vocals sometimes the 
feeling instantly translates into vocals and sometimes 
it takes a while for the right feeling behind the words 
to appear - then the words write themselves." 

Blue Hawaii and sometime Demon Christopher 
Powell - aka Pow Pow - turn out to be two branches 
of the Chicago scene -the former noodling away in 
Pickled Egg-released improv band, Bablicon, and both 
members of local avant-garde group Need New Body. 
Icy Demons can certainly be heard as a spontaneous 
extension of its predecessors, with its strong leanings 
toward experimentation and improvisation. 

Blue can also be found on mastering duties at the 
Shape Shoppe, a studio becoming Chicago's answer 
to The Smell, housing the Obey Your Brain record label, 
plus a space for bands such as Chandeliers, Michael 
Columbia and Mahjongg to flex their creative sinews. 

Trying to define the Icy Demons' sound is like trying 
to thread a needle while wearing a straitjacket. 
The English language seems under-equipped. In one 
fleeting moment, I'm hearing Aesop Rock, I'm hearing 
Zappa, I'm hearing Pink Floyd. This is due to a 
fluctuating line-up, currently additionally consisting 
ofYo! Hanan, Versa and Monsieur Jeri. "It's always 
changing. For this tour we are focusing more on vocals 
and having everybody fully in the mix." 

"The sound is mainly obtained by the instruments 
and the players. We like simple - or complex - music 
that sounds natural? We are compatible as a band 
because we share a common rhythmic, melodic 
and stylistic attitude. I can't put my finger on what that 
is though..." 

music that time forgot: 
the wolfgang press 

Words: Jamie Stewart 

Ever wondered what Xiu Xiu's 
founder built his foundations on? 

Oh! This issosad-and it will seem like blasphemy- 
but with the exception of one artist, 4AD sucks now. 
Really sucks. There was a time when it was a solid 
guarantee that anything you bought with that 
imprint on it was fearless and like nothing else. 
It is lame to be nostalgic. But it is not nostalgia when 
the purity and growth within an era is a fact. 4AD 
changed the world for us. Thank you for then and 

It made me afraid of 
my own body 

a pained and weepy fuck-you for now (please note 
that despite my spite towards most of the current 
roster, I did try and fail to get my band onto 4AD. 
So maybe I am just lashing out in embarrassment). 

But! One band that they generously put forth 
was The Wolfgang Press, who had an impenetrable 
run before losing their minds in the early Nineties. 
It is best to proceed as if that never happened - 1 am 
lying to myself and to you but in this case SHH ! They 
were so amazing in the Eighties that all can be 
forgiven. Why forgive them butnot4AD? Good 
question. I take it all back.4AD is forgiven as well. 
It is just that, 4AD, we desperately need you to be 
new and brave. If not you then who? Sise puede. 

The Wolfgang Press, if you are unfamiliar, made 
perverted goth, soul, noise and Brazilian music from 
(suspension of disbelief, please!) 1983 to 1988. 

It was violent, physical, fuckish, melted and 
frightening. I was a virgin when I began to listen 
to them and it made me afraid of my own body. 
They used aural ultra-abstraction and Sixties dance- 
bass guitar (not hippie swirly dance but Stax politico 
dance) to make you want to run into a giant crown 
of thorns and bleed to death as you praised heaven 
for music. One afternoon, going to a protest with 
my brother against anti-immigration laws in the 
USA, I put the tape in right before we picked 
up some of my classmates. My brother accused 
me of trying to impress them with obscurity. 

So much of what you hear now could never have 
happened were it not for them. Somehow the 
combination they created - drum machine, intense 
vocals, unusual non-rock sounds, dance and 
animalism -wrought largely bullshit 'fun' and 
'collective' derivatives. Maybe this is why they 
remain in the fog. Had followers stayed unshrinking 
as they, there would be no reason for this little 
eulogy. For one cannot remove the perversion from 
this equation and have it be anything other than 
'experimental music for the rest of us'. 

Before I moved out of my parents' house, their 
song 'Kansas' made me worry about ever actually 
doing so. My fellow Americans would kill me. The 
Wolfgang Press, I postulated, had come here once 
were attacked and clawed apart, and turned their 
regretted survival into their band. I wanted so much 
to feel something and see something and be raped 
by something that made me change it into a terrible, 
grinding, relentless and messy, living sound. 

They made records called 'Sweatbox', 'Big Sex' 
and The Burden Of Mules and, as if to redeem their 
sins, one as well called Standing Up Straight. They 
being: Michael Allen, (brood, exploding voice and 
stunner, feldspar bass), Andrew Gray (landmine and 
crutches guitar) and Mark Cox (what-is-this-bizarre- 
and-wonderful-bird keyboards). If you have the time 
(and if you have read all of this you clearly do) please 
go get Bird Wood Cage. When you want be alone 
and you feel like your heart is pointless but your skin 
is never-ending, play it and play it and play it and 
play it and play it and play it and play it. 

26 1 plan b 


the void 

read labels: planet mu 

Words: Adam Anonymous 

How's business in the trade of splatter-breaks and 
low-end wub? Good ta, says Planet Mu's tireless CEO, 

In real danger of breaking the 250-release discog 
barrier by the end of this year, Mike'Mu-Ziq' 
Paradinas's Planet Mu is still one of the best 
goddamn labels everto grace Great Britain. Bucking 
the trend of the receding record industry, the 
upcoming Mu release schedule is an overflowing 
electronic chocolate box of trusted favourites and 
fresh goodies, including new full-lengths from 
Venetian Snares, outer limits Northern Irish bass 
explorer Boxcutter, Scottish enigma Remano 
Eszildn, 2-stepping New Yorker FaltyDL and king of 
the rave mash-up Shitmat. And though Paradinas is 
far too modest to admit as much, Mu has very much 
become a marker for international artists - such as 
Philadelphia gutter music champ Starkey- arriving 
on the UK scene; a record on Planet Mu is a seal of 
quality assurance like few others in 2009. 

Planet Mu has long 
led the way on 
dubstep. Has it been 
interesting to see 
how the genre has 

Mike Paradinas: "I 
haven't really thought 
about that. I didn't quite 
see it happening like 
it has because there's 
quite a lot of R&B-ish 
American influence 
now, via grime, Joker 
and that side of it. 
Then there's the more 
backpacker stuff - 

Hudson Mohawke 
and Mike Slott- and 
somewhere in between, 
RustieandZomby. I'm 
into both sides really." 

Are there any 
directions it's heading 
you haven't enjoyed? 

"I didn't like Rusko's remix of Katy Perry, but it's 
big on the dancefloor, so who am I to say? Dubstep 
in a way is over now, it's split. What's Boxcutter? He's 
probably always been something else. But it's an 
exciting time, itfeels like '95- 96 again." 

At the other extreme, new Venetian Snares 
record Filth is a real acid throwback... 

" It's inspired by that distorted acid sound, Drop 
Bass Network, early pre-breakcore hardcore as they 
call it in America. Like a Milwaukee/Chicago/Detroit- 
type record in the Nineties, the hard acid stuff. It's 
a little harder to get into than some Snares stuff, the 
melodies are hidden, but it comes out eventually. " 

Snares comes across as a grumpy guy... 

" He cares very much about his music and gets 
upset that he's not understood. It's disheartening 
for anyone to see their stuff dismissed, which 
happens with him a lot, because it's not flavour 
of the moment - even though it's a lot more popular 
than some of the dubstep we've released. " 

Shitmat, meanwhile, has talked about 
killing off his alias after imminent album One 
Foot In The Rave... 

" I thought he was going to 'kill' himself at 
Bangface onstage! I think it's time to hang up the 
name to be honest, but then he needs to pay his 
rent. . .Shitmat's the name that's known. " 

Planet Mu is currently based in Kent 
following a short spell in London, after many 
years in Worcester- why the relocation? 

"London rent. When you're running a record 
label you've got to get overheads down. We can put 
out more records because we don't live in London. " 

What's next release-wise? 

"Loads. Milanese, Legion Of Two, Few Nolder, 
a Bizzy B retrospective, and Jega's album. Then from 
August we're planning a Ceephax album, a new 
Luke Vibert, a [Neil] Landstrumm EP, Sunken Foal 
remixes with LV and Gasman, Boxcutter's doing a 
record called Arecibo's Reply, and a Terror Danjah 
album. Plus another Starkey album. " 

Phew. Any time left for your own Mu-Ziq? 

"No. I'm just too busy." 

the void 

remote viewer: gothenburg 

Words: Louis Pattison 

You can trace the genesis of the modern 
Gothenburg underground back to the early 
Eighties, when Radium 226.05, a label/studio 
housed in an abandoned swimming hall, issued the 
compilation Gothenburg 84. Pulling together music 
from sound artist CM 
von Hausswolff, Jean- 
Louis Huhta of Cortex, 
and Freddie Wadling 
of industrial rockers 
Leather Nun, it marked 
Sweden's second city as 
a hotbed of post-punk 
experimentation. One 
quarter-century later, 

and Fang Records' new collection Gothenberg 08 
turns the spotlight on a new crop, with acts like 
the Skull Defekts, Sewer Election and Dead Letters 
Spell Out Dead Words leading a strong localised 
strain of drone, industrial rock, and degraded 
synthesiser noise. 

Joachim Nordwall of Skull Defekts dates the 
start of the new wave to 2003, when he started 
organising shows at the Nefertiti Jazz Club in 
central Gothenburg. "During the first few years it 
was basically only me active but then a few more 
heads began to do stuff. Today we see 
an amazingly active scene here. " 

It would be disingenuous to 
present this as some kind of closed 
pocket, though; Nordwall's label 
iDEAL actually dates back to a spell 
living in London in the late Nineties. 
"My original idea for the label was 
to present rough electronic music 
filled with energies," he explains. 
"I was already involved in the 
underground industrial music scene 
through my actions with my analogue 
drone duo Alvars Orkester, and the 
cassette label Borft Records. From day 
one, it has been me doing iDEAL but 
I collaborate with Thomas Ekelund 
[of Dead Letters Spell Out Dead 
Words] for layouts and design. " 
i DEAL'S roster now mixes up 
internationally familiar names 
(Daniel Higgs, Nate Young of Wolf 
Eyes) with Swedish acts like Christine 
Odlund and Audionom. 

The limited edition has 
a new lease of life 

Also Gothenburg-based 
is Release The Bats, a 

combined label, distro, and 
record shop run by Matthias 
Andersson. "RTB started out 
releasing gothy/post-punk 
stuff, and although the 
label has drifted away from 
that kind of thing, it's still 
something I return to when 
something good enough 
turns up," says Andersson, 
citing the recent Tala Svart 
LP from Stockholm grrrl- 
rockers Hanna Hirsch and 
an upcoming seven-inch 
from San Diego goth punks 
Blessure Grave. Andersson, 
like Nordwall, runs his 
label by taste rather than 
locality, but acknowledges 
something special is going 
on in Gothenburg: "Over 
the last two or three years 
things have just exploded... 
some newer names to 
memorise are Jasper TX, 
Attestupa, Street Drinkers, Sjalvhat, Wooden 
Ashes, Ogdy, Smycken, Haunted Trails, 

Release The Bats is quitting CDs soon: "The 
status of the CD is changing rapidly, it's just getting 
harder and harder to get rid of them. Nowdaysit 
seems that people are usually more willing to spend 
a few bucks extra on a LP than a CD. Dealing with 
vinyl from Sweden is 
extremely expensive... 
we have almost the 
highest postage rates 
in the world, apparently 
only Norway is more 
expensive." But where 
digital media is losing 
its appeal, vinyl and 
especially cassette 
labels, spitting out art objects in limited runs, seem 
to be thriving. "My current favorite label from 
Gothenburg is Klorofyll Kassetter, a new small 
tape label which has been doing great stuff with 
Luva, Teeth, Sewer Election, Million Brazilians and 
Altar Of Flies to name a few." Perhaps CDs, plastic 
repositories for digital files, have had their day; but 
the lesson of Gothenburg suggests that the limited 
edition has a new lease of life. 


the story of: 
ghostly international 

Words: Jeff Owens 
Illustration: Andrew Clare 

Adecade in slinky dance, in the 
Detroit label's own words 

1 998 Soon-to-be Ghostly founder Sam Valenti IV 
meets Mathew Dear at a party in Ann Arbor, where 
Dear is playing a make-shift live set. Valenti says 
"Hello". Dear says "What? "The rest is history. 

1 999 The first Ghostly 1 2-inch, 'Hands Up For Detroit' 
by Matthew Dear is released. Very few sell. 

2000 Tadd Mullinix (who will become Dabrye, James 
T Cotton, Charles Manier, etc) gives Ghostly a demo 
of house tracks. The other side of the cassette is crazy 
experimental stuff. Ghostly has to split into two labels 
because of this. The Spectral Sound label is born. 

2001 Ghostly 'humours' Tadd and puts out Dabrye 's 
One/Three album of broken Jay Dee-inspired hip-hop 
instrumentals. An unprecedented round of praise puts 
Ghostly on the electronic scene's radar. 

2002 Valenti's University thesis, the Disco Nouveau 
compilation, blows up, including a four-star review 
in Rolling Stone. Valenti decides to make Ghostly 

a full-time job. 

2003 Matthew Dear weaves vocals into his techno 
and releases the Leave Luck To Heaven album, which 
feels good. 

2004 Inspired by sounds from a dream, Dear climbs 
on his cheap software and creates the Audion alias 
with the 'Kisses' EP. 

2005 Ghostly digs deeper into avant-pop, signing 
Ohio's Skeletons And The Girl-Faced Boys. Their Git 
earns comparisons ranging from Mariah Carey to Can. 

2006 The second Dabrye album, Two/Three, arrives 
with collaborations with Jay Dee, DOOM and AG. 
Electronic fans shruq, hip-hop fans rejoice. 

2007 Nearing bankruptcy, Ghostly releases Matthev 
Dear's Asa Breed, an album of earthly delights and 
celestial pleasures. Phew. 

2008 School Of Seven Bells are brought aboard. 
The three-part family unit and their debut Alpinisms 
is a modern smash. 

2009 Ghostly re-invests in the youth of today with 
Detroit's Deastro and Denmark's Choir Of Young 
Believers, continuing the joy that is running a label. 

plan b 1 29 

the void 

this time around 

Words: Miss AMP 

Plan B ventures into the heart 
of Essex in search of a greater 
crested Esser 


'Were we going for 
the gay sploshing 
fetish audience? 
Not on purpose!' 

They don't make 'em like they used to. Essex boys, 
I mean. Time was it was all highlights and Cortinas. 
You know: How do you know when an Essex boy's 
had an orgasm? He drops his bag of chips. Why 
don't you let Essex boys take coffee breaks? It takes 
too long to retrain them. That kind of thing. Not 
to mention the Tory-voting. But now, what's this? 

An Essex boy called Esser with more than chips 
in his bag- think tinklysynths, bedroom beats, 
ultra-catchy electronic ditties, drums for art-rock trio 
Ladyfuzz and remixes for Micachu and frYars. Plus, 
shock horror, hairwise, he sports not highlights, but 
a quiff. That's not very 'Essex' now, is it? 

Esser laughs down the phone-line. "It's not really 
very Essex, no. The stereotype of Essex boys - 
Cortinas and gold jewellery -there's definitely some 
truth in that. The thing about Essex that made me 
want to make music is just.... its boringness. Britain 
is made up of lots of horrible little towns and Essex 
is a lot more representative of one of those than it is 
London. And that's why I want to make catchy pop 
tunes - to reach those people sitting bored in their 
little towns, and cheer them up a bit." 

Esser (23) and his quiff first sprang to solo notice 
with the 2008 release of 'I Love You' on Merok 
(home of Crystal Castles and The Teenagers). 

30 1 plan b 

Described as "avant-pop" (think Kid Carpet 
or friend and tourmate Micachu), 'I Love You' is 
a gentle love song that pairs deliberately dodgy 
similes about amour with the repeated reprimand 
"But love is no excuse for bad art". Equally striking 
is the track's video, which features Esser sporting 
a white wifebeater vest, soulf ully mouthing the 
song to camera in a single take, as an unseen 
adversary chucks food on him. 

Inspired by a Martin Creed video installation 
of a girl compulsively vomiting to camera (the 'bad 
art' of the chorus?), the images of a food-splattered 
Esser bear great similarity to those admired by fans 
of the 'sploshing' fetish (where people get off 
on others messed up in whipped cream, baked 
beans, and so on). "Were we going for the gay 
sploshing fetish audience? Not on purpose! But 
if we've gained a few fans in that community, then 
it's all for the good." 

Esser's gathered his oddball pop songs onto 
an album, Braveface, out now on Transgressive, 
and his upcoming tour will feature Morris dancers 
(replacing the dancing skeleton of previous gigs) 
accompanying his five-piece's band's music. Expect 
the unexpected - "We get more shambolic the 
tighter we become as a band. Once you know what 

you're supposed to be doing you can do something 
different every night" - as these gigs are brought 
to you by DIY party veterans. "When we were living 
in Essex we got so bored we started doing our own 
nights, just the kind of stuff we wanted to go to but 
couldn't. We called them 'Midnight Moonstomp 
Parties' and they were a mixture of a gig and a rave. 
Plus there was a guerrilla barber shop offering Esser 
haircuts. " Were there lots of takers? " Er, not really. " 

And so, back to the quiff. What's it all about? 
Is it a Fifties retro thing or. . .what? " It started off as 
a Forties slicked back look, actually, but then it kind 
of took on a life of its own. It got shaved at the sides 
and got bigger and bigger and gradually got 
more. . .offensive. Now I go to see one guy, Mr 
Ducktail, off Carnaby Street in London. He only does 
quiffs. He's the quiff specialist. If your readers want 
an Esser 'do they should go see Mr Ducktail, and 
then, to style it, just dry your hair upside down and 
chuck some Dax Wax on it and some hairspray. " 
Any particular hairspray? "The cheapest you can 
find." So there you have it. Dax Wax, cheap 
hairspray, a bunch of heartfelt, ultra-catchy electro- 
ditties and perhaps you too can be the latest, 
unexpectedly awesome incarnation of Essex Man. 



MAY 18 











Tue 16 June BRIGHTON Duke Of York's 

Wed 17 June BRISTOL Fiddlers Club 

Thu 18 June LONDON Cecil Sharp House 

Fri19June GATESHEAD Baltic 

Sat 20 June STIRLING Tollbooth 

Sun 21 June GLASGOW Arches 

Tue 23 June BIRMINGHAM Hare & Hounds 

Wed 24 June OXFORD Holywell Music Room 

Thu 25 June NORWICH Arts Centre 

Sat 9 May BRISTOL Space 72 

Sun 10 May LONDON Utrophia 

MonHMay BRIGHTON Freebutt 

Tue 12 May LONDON Lexington 

Wed 13 May LEEDS Brudenell Social 

Thu 14 May LIVERPOOL Kazimier 

Fri 15 May MANCHESTER Deaf Institute 

Sat 16 May ULVERSTON Roxy 

Sun 17 May NOTTINGHAM Bodega Social 

Fri 5 June LONDON Coronet 



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Words: Lauren Strain 

Photography: Anna Wolf 

Please be seated for Veckatimest the album where baroque Brooklyn quartet Grizzly Bear 
ceased dreaming of symphonies and stepped up to realise them # with Nico Muhly and the 
Brooklyn Philharmonic 

New York awakens to snow; our flights are 
cancelled. I leave the dogs asleep, fold trousers over 
boots and socks over trousers. Vehicles stealth past 
in packs. I came here to speak to Grizzly Bear, a band 
being primed as "the next Fleet Foxes" in some 
absurd collapsing of history into the latest, nearest 
name-drop: while Fleet Foxes only garnered 
widespread attention with their self-titled album 
in 2008, the Brooklyn four-piece I'm in this city to 
see has been going in some form or another for 
around five years now. And besides, they sound 
nothing alike; seems Grizzly Bear's backstory has 
been replaced with a handy but incorrect point 
of reference for newcomers. It's not unusual, but 
ignore the analogies - dig deeper. 

I should probably tell you right now that Grizzly 
Bear -that's songwriters Ed Drosteand Daniel 
Rossen, flautist Chris Taylor and percussionist 
Christopher Bear- aren't remarkable. Not in an 
obvious, 'let's put them on the cover' way, anyway. 
They don'ttalk about their music too personally; 
I mean, clearly it is personal - it comes from them, 
is of them - but they don't reveal much of it in 
that sense. "It was fun," they say, a lot of the time. 
"It was super interesting." They're no shock 
success story; they've been gradually acquiring 

Robin Pecknold told Ed Droste. A sold out concert 
with the Brooklyn Philharmonic this February was 
the year's hot ticket, snippy girls and the odd tuxedo 
blinking at the chandeliers while awaiting the arrival 
of special guest and close friend, Owen Pallett as 
Final Fantasy. Everything surrounding the album's 
release is being done with such class, darling, such 
panache: the aftershow party brims with sloshed 
reporters primly clutching their wine glasses, "mm- 
hmm"ing and "ya"ing in one long, amoebic hum. 

My audience with the four themselves takes 
place in an abhorrently huge apartment in Soho, 
all varnished floors and pillars with a motorbike 
planted randomly in the middle of the several 
hundred empty square feet. It sits next to a garish 
exercise machine and appears to have no purpose. 
We settle into sofas made of mallow; I lean forward 
awkwardly to place the dictaphone on the coffee 
table and exclaim that my hotel room has a view 
of the Empire State Building from the bath. Bear 
asks if I would mind him conducting the interview 
from the exercise bike. I am told I have 1 5 minutes 
left; am given a business card. It's all sweet, but 
mildly uncomfortable. The build-up to Veckatimest 
is wrapped in a feeling of luxury, of significance - 
the sense that this is something 'highbrow' and 

slots aren't enough: "Their records are great 
and their live show is great. . .their success always 
seemed inevitable to me." And actually, there's no 
reason why four well-mannered, groomed males 
must be assumed to make half-assed Deerhunter 
prude-gaze - and that's what you thought when 
you first looked at those photos, I know it - no 
reason why a quartet of pedigree cheekbones can't 
make an album that'll bore an arrow through your 
heart. Because hey; they just did. The fuss has not 
been propagated without reason. 

make a decision with a kiss 

Named after a remote island off the coast of Cape 
Cod, Veckatimest has 'ambition' written into its 
blueprint. The Brooklyn Youth Chorus spooks 
'Ready, Able', voices coiling like tendrils of white 
smoke or sea foam. 28-year-old Juilliard school 
graduate Nico Muhly, another close friend and 
young composer of the moment (he worked with 
Antony And The Johnsons for The Crying Light, 
Bonnie 'Prince' Billy for The Letting Go) scores 
many of the pieces: his arrangements are tender, 
wounded, symbiotic with the vocals; Victoria 
LeGrand of Beach House swoops and tongues 
through 'Two Weeks' with gulping lungs. It is proud, 

'There's so much intriguing, beautiful and incredibly 
relevant 20th Century music that would really turn 
people on' -chr 

- Christopher 

a considered, polite admiration since 2004's Horn 
Of Plenty and their celebrated sleeper album Yellow 
House in 2006. The chummy 'Friend' EP featured 
Grizzly covers from CSS and Band Of Horses, while 
a touring schedule took in support slots for TV 
On The Radio, Radiohead and Feist. Oh, and Paul 
Simon. It's been a distinguished ride, one that's 
allowed a lot of room to detour (Rossen's side 
project with friend Fred Nicolaus - and sometimes 
Bear and Taylor - Department Of Eagles, released 
its second album, In Ear Park, to separate acclaim 
last year). They're not the kind of band you can get 
fanatical about. They're not the kind of band you 
can get reverential about. Their music doesn't 
so much hurl you backwards as ooze beneath your 
nails and slowly swell your skin. I look at the animal 
shapes cut into the grille of an East Village private 
garden; an odd beast grins toothily out. My page 
remains white, gets lost in the weather. Nothing 
profound is happening. 

this is a foreground 

Here is as good a place as any to begin. Atthe end 
of this month, Warp will release Grizzly Bear's new 
album, Veckatimest. It's "the album of the 
Noughties", as Fleet Foxes' (there they are again) 

important- and it almost obfuscates the music 
on the actual album. "I'm not really aware of the 
hype," Droste comments dryly. "I never thought 
that I would do this, " he gestures, indicating 'music' 
in general, "which is why it's so interesting to me 
that I'm here." 

Now for the hard, slightly un-PC truth. Grizzly 
Bear embody - or have been made to embody - 
a particular kind of modern musical aesthetic. 
They're four well-bred, well-brought up boys 
who make tasteful, mildly intellectual music; four 
gentlemen who -seemingly, anyway -operate in 
a relatively privileged world where creativity can be 
savoured and drawn-out, where they can just pop 
up to fancy houses in the wilderness if they damn 
well feel like it and paddle about with vintage gear 
for weeks at a time. If middle class American indie is 
a Pitchfork epitome then you kids in yer Brooklyn 
cafes with yer MacBook Pros've got yourselves one 
helluva band to reference; but fuck, as they say, that 
shit. These 'demographies', maybe they exist - 
" Bands these days are made from strong Pitchfork 
numbers and choice opening slots," Owen Pallett 
tells me, via email, "and Grizzly Bear have had both" 
- but the demographics don't decide the sounds or 
the sonics. As Pallett continues, the scores and the 

regal, accomplished; it is the total opposite of Horn 
Of Plenty, which Droste describes as a collection of 
"weird, ambiguous sketches that to this day sound 
like really rough demos that just happened to get 
released on an album". Veckatimest- recorded at 
a casual trot with breaks between its three locations, 
Glen Tonche house in upstate New York, Droste 's 
grandmother's house in Cape Cod, a church in the 
city - sounds like it's been purposefully designed for 
opera houses, canyons, monstrous speakers. It's like 
they p/annec/ it with success in mind. Did they? 

"I think it just sounds a bit like that because 
everyone in the band is so much more confident 
now," reasons Droste, non-heroically. 

"It just comes from the weather and the space, " 
Bear shrugs. "When it was cold we'd go inside and 
make a fire. When it was hot we'd go outside and 
take a walk." 

That's nice. 

"I think we just do really good work when we're 
in a warm environment that makes people happy," 
Droste continues. " It's nice to get out of the city and 
be together. It was a mountain. Well, ish. A glorified 
mountain. Was it a mountain?" 

"A ridge," protests Taylor. 

"Hill, " Rossen grunts. 

plan b 1 33 

grizzly bear 

"A small mountain. But anyway, we had 
an amazing view, looking over these reservoirs. 
We played in a giant great hall with, like, 45ft high 
ceilings," Droste gesticulates, "on all this vintage 
gear. I got to use a Mellotron." 

"We would finish recording at four in the 
morning, and I would go up the mountain and pitch 
a tent and camp," recalls Taylor. "That's pretty rare." 

Bear smiles patiently. " I think we are all most 
at peace with this record. I feel like everything 
that I was thinking about had been explored 
or exorcised." 

It seems to be a lot more positive than previous 
records, I say, not too thrillingly. I reference the 
plinky plonky shuffle-bounce of Two Weeks' and 
the pitch and yaw of 'While You Wait For The 
Others', both of which I've heard only once, in 
an office, while simultaneously attempting to have 
a conversation. 

"Well," Droste hums, "I can't speak for 
everyone but I think we're all happier than we 
were three years ago. "He looks around to 
approving, sleepy nods. 

"There's no overarching theme," yawns Rossen. 
"After a couple of years of doing very tense, dark 
music, I think we realised that it's just much harder 
to make good, happier songs. It's a new challenge, 
not necessarily to make a more upbeat, poppy song, 
but to make a song that has some complex thing 
going on where that 'complex thing' isn't doom 
and gloom. Notthatdoom and gloom isn't 
interesting, but I think we kind of did enough of that 
-you grow up and you feel better." 

At the time, I nod - but that's because I've not 
really been given a chance to form any coherent 

these songs stood up in time for us, because 
ultimately we would want those songs to stand 
up later down the road for the audience as well. " 

every time you try 

Longevity seems important to Grizzly Bear; in 
conversation, they consistently return to the need 
for Veckatimest to be something with a lasting 
quality, a standalone value that cannot be fully 
registered with a handful of listens. Indeed, the 
album's most stirring moments come when songs 
slither out of our grasp, their skins gellous and 
glistening. Take 'Foreground', for example; it 
completes the album, yet does not complete it at all 
- Droste's vocals make circuits 'round patient piano, 
Bear's brushes hesitate before they exhale, the choir 
frames words, but stops. The final cadence does not 
resolve. "A lot of music isn't easily digestible or 
instantly accessible," Droste insists. "You need to 
chew before you swallow, y'know? The internet has 
allowed people to access too much," he grumbles 
at a tangent. " Everyone's an armchair critic, 
everyone listens to something they've downloaded 
and likes to go blog about it or whatever. I say this, 
because I know I do it; I'll download something and 
then go do the vacuuming. But there's a danger in 
that, because there's something really important 
about listening to an album as a piece of work, as it 
was meant to be. When it leaks" - as Veckatimest 
did only a couple of weeks after the Warp offices 
received it, meaning someone from the press privy 
to a hearing must've recorded a playback on a 
phone stuffed in a pocket -"it's so sad to me." 

A few weeks later, Owen Pallett echoes Droste's 
sentiments in an email. "It's tough -for me, anyway 

of internet downloading. Every corner of the city 
is occupied by a band. In many spaces, the venues 
are outside, right next to each other, with 
noisebleeds.Thisyearl keptthinking to myself, 
'My god, this is not how music is supposed to 
be appreciated ! ' You have people walk in and 
go, 'Aaawww! THEY'RE SHIT' And you're like, 
They're not shit!' At SXSW no one has a chance, 
these bandsjust get these judgements or write-ups 
based on a performance in the most stressful, crazy 
environment. You cannot 'perform' there, 
you just kind of struggle along. " 

Classical music - or, at least, its performance - 
is often still seen as the preserve of a mature, 
affluent and possibly elitist spectatorship, but last 
night, well, your crowd seemed hugely varied - 
old and young, the Brooklyn Phil's subscribers, 
newcomers. Is that satisfying? Is blurring these 
market-research sanctioned 'sectors' part of the 
idea, a duty, even? Is that why you did it? 

"Was there a lot of different types of people 
there?" asks Droste, eyebrows akimbo. "Looked 
pretty white to me. " They titter. 

"Was Mary-Kate Olsen there?" Rossen perks 
up. "She was our alleged attendee. Sorry; you ask 
a serious question about trying to diversify an 
audience and you get 'Was Mary-Kate there?'" 

"Our audience usually has a pretty clear white 
ratio," Taylor snickers. "Oh man. Please don't print 
any of this. 

"What would be cool," he continues, sincerely, 
"is if there was more of an interest in symphonic 
music where orchestras, symphonies - symphonic 
orchestras, whatever- could play something 
besides, like, Claire De Lune or fucking Ode To Joy 

'A lot of music isn't easily digestible or instantly accessible. 
You need to chew before you swallow, y'know?' -Ed 

opinion. A few weeks later, with more listens behind 
me, I take issue with the idea that Veckatimest 
is actually that positive at all. Two Weeks' is plagued 
by "a routine malaise". "You could hope for some 
substance as long as you like", sighs Rossen, heavy 
hearted, during 'While You Wait For The Others, 
"Or just wait out the evening/You'll only bleed 
me dry". I ring Droste up and have it out with 
him. Pleasantly. 

"We do like to create this weird, ambiguous 
tension," he confirms, "because hopefully it brings 
you back to reinvestigate. Two Weeks' might seem 
upbeat, but the lyrics are pretty much a downer. 
Then, some of the more stripped down, sad songs 
aren't actually as sad as they seem. Those are 
certainly the kind of albums that I go back to, 
because they're these things that I don't understand 
yet. I always write about personal things, but we 
frame them in an ambiguous way. When lyrics are 
too specific, personally speaking, I feel like they can 
alienate people. Also, if someone's telling a story 
that clearly never happened to them ..." he tails off; 
"I dunno -there's a lot of music like that, fanciful 
tales of whaling on the open sea, or elves or 
something. While that might be interesting in 
terms of a story, it doesn't resonate with me on an 
emotional level; it can leave me cold. I think Daniel 
agrees with me on this. That's why we don't make 
them so specific with, like, ultra excruciating, explicit 
details of our lives. For me, an album is something 
you need to live with for a while. It's not something 
you're going to put on and then immediately freak 
out about. I'll listen to albums like that and burn out 
on them really quickly. That's why we took breaks 
while making this record; we needed to see how 

-to keep my chin up while funnelling all my time 
and money into something that's just gonna be 
downloaded and described as 'overhyped'. I love 
the process and I love the product, but I feel as 
if the producer/consumer relationship is broken. 
I could tell you about the negativity that I'm feeling 
these days. . .but instead I'll just say that when 
a record comes out that I love, I buy 1 copies and 
give them to people, for no reason other than 
That's The Way It Should Be. " 

These things, they still last; but for fewer of us, 
it seems. And as the general idea of recorded 
material becomes devalued - or, at least, as its value 
becomes less appreciated by less people - does the 
power to revivify people's passion for music lie in 
the live arena? Is that why more bands like Grizzly 
Bear are rethinking their work, adapting it for 
unusual performances? 

Bear considers. " I mean, I've been to about. . . 
one? One symphony since I've been in New York." 

"Really?" pokes Droste. 

" Really. And when we played with the LA Phil" - 
the two did not play together, but alongside each 
other, at Los Angeles' Walt Disney Concert Hall 
in March 2008 - " it had been such a long time since 
I'd been in a proper concert venue, watching an 
orchestra play. It's an amazing, beautiful thing, and 
I think that if you don't have a vast understanding 
of the tradition or the classical canon it actually adds 
to the experience - no matter what you're seeing, 
even if it's a boring piece, it is this completely 
acoustic body of sound in front of you. " 

"And then you have something like South By 
Southwest, " notes Droste, a few weeks later (and 
after they've been), "which is like the festival version 

or whatever boring shit they play when you go see 
them. The thing is, there's so much intriguing, 
beautiful and so incredibly relevant 20th Century 
music that would really turn people on but they 
don't have a clue how cool it is because they've 
never even checked it out. Stravinsky, it's like, how 
hip that is? And how relevant that sounds? And you 
wonder where Radiohead gets their fucking shit 
from? Classical ensembles should play hipper stuff. 
But it's that whole recursive relationship thing, 
because attendance is low and concert tickets are 
expensive, which makes attendance even lower. . . 
I think what we've done, for example, is a good way 
of reaching in and getting something out." 

"Yeah," Droste nods fervently. "So many people 
don't actively listen to music anymore. " 

"It would be cool if this sparked some kind of 
revolution," concludes Taylor, "but who knows. 
Unfortunately iPods are really popular." 

"I don't share these stereotypes or these 
prejudices," writes Owen Pallett when I enquire if 
blurring these parameters and integrating different 
audiences is something he considers with his own 
music, itself swoonsome, orchestral pop. But he 
rubbishes the notion of such societal strata. "I don't 
see these barriers. But you're not alone in feeling 
this way. Schnittke famously said, 'I'm going to 
break down the barrier between pop and classical 
if it kills me'. As time passes, what is considered 
extremely successful pop garbage will eventually get 
its critical re-assessment. See: Phil Collins, Burt 
Bacharach. And the most daring new music will gain 
popularity as time goes by as well. See: Hollywood 
soundtracks (featuring Ligeti, Penderecki), 
Stockhausen, Metal Machine Music). Eventually, 

plan b 1 35 

grizzly bear 

'We are all most at peace with this record. I feel like 
everything that I was thinking about had been explored 

Or exorcised' -Christopher 

it all occupies the same pot. As far as I'm 
concerned," he finishes, "the only differences 
between 'serious' music and 'pop' are 1 ) 'acoustic' 
vs 'amplified' - although the Brooklyn Phil was 
mic'd up; 2) 'concert hall' vs 'bar'; and 3) 'no beer' 
vs 'beer'. Essentially," he says, with regard to 
Veckatimest itself, "I feel as if Grizzly Bear have 
successfully married pop production with a 
composition style more akin to ambient music. . . 
their records are complex, three-dimensional." 

"The main thing," Droste surmises, "is that 
the way we look at music is always changing, and 
I don'tthink we have a clear understanding of what 
we are or what we're going to be. " 

"I think wejust try to challenge ourselves a lot," 
Taylor pipes up, "and challenge the idea of a band 
as a 'band', whatever that is. It's proven to be a 
healthy thing in helping us grow. Which sounds 
really fucking obvious, y'know- whatever, 'you 
challenge yourself, you grow', blah blah." He 
expires, flops back into the couch. 

i'll ask you kindly to make your way 

We're used to wanting - no, expecting - artists 
to dessicate their work for us. "Why?" we keep 
asking, like children; "What is this for? How did you 

36 1 plan b 

doit? What made you do it?" Questioning is 
important, of course. Mostly, we understand only 
through persistence, through an almost instinctive 
human determination to pin something down, 
spear it, even kill it. And when we don't get the 
responses we want -I mean, even ones we don't 
want will do, so long as they're conclusive, firm -we 
tense up, frustrated, outwitted. The more I think 
about my role as investigating someone else's work, 
the more paradoxical I begin to see the act of doing 
so; the point of a musician having made a piece 
of music is for us to experience its full, complete 
presence, not immediately set about breaking it 
down into its constituents or cornering its creator, 
shaking him in the hope that rough-cut diamonds 
will rattle out onto the floor. If Droste, Rossen, Taylor 
and Bear had intended for us to see Veckatimest's 
endoskeleton, to watch them trussing it together, 
marrow and ligament, then they wouldn't have 
bothered sealing the joints, fusing the arteries, 
rubbing the skin 'til blood prickled the surface. 
In the same way that (some) listeners will pounce 
on an album as it leaks onto the internet - desperate 
more for the thrill of being first than for the music 
itself - so we, as writers, vie for the most revealing 
audience with the people behind the words and 

wax; we draft up interrogations and lose sleep when 
we can't inhabit their skin, as though they owe us. 

And so I'm glad that they don't reveal too much; 
I appreciate them withholding much of their story 
from me. Because it makes me return to the music - 
and after all, the music is the reason I'm here, at my 
desk, at five in the morning, Muhly's bass strings 
chugging like steam engines, his trebles dancing 
in trios and trysts; it's the reason, too, that their 
friends and fellow musicians are gathering around, 
declaring their praise, happy to discuss their 
"bros" (Pallett), excited to work together and 
push forever forward. What matters are the 
questions Veckatimest makes us ask ourselves. 
With no explanation, no justification, a piece of 
work becomes unapologetic, singular and for our 
own interpretation; that is, exactly how it should be. 

Grizzly Bear, they shut me up, they pushed me 
into silence. These four unlikely boys, buffered up, 
coiffed and serene -they gave me nothing to argue 
against, only sentiments to agree with. So now, as 
we power further into the sky and the lightbulb 
filaments chatter with the altitude; now, as the choir 
assumes speech, then fades; now, as Veckatimest 
hovers, Droste's vocals orbiting a satellite, the city 
falling behind fog - now, now, now I am listening. 

12-14TH JUNE 2009, LONDON 



June 12, Camden centre 

John Zorn 



James Ferraro (skaters) 

June 13, Conway hall 

Com us 

Burial, Hex - Kinit Her 


June 14, Conway hall 

Threshold House 
Boys Choir 


/Ethenor - T.A.G.C 

dieter muh - pestrepeller 



.18.05.09 . 


J myspace.corn/pas5iopiljarns pass ion pit music, coir 


when you're ready 

Words: kicking_k 

Dancef loor action, from roots to 
heads -Toddla T reps for the regions 

Let's start obvious: the BBC's Sound Of 2009 already 
got it wrong. Not to say this year's vacuum-wrapped 
crop of mostly smooth electro won't sell - being 
generated in consultation with those who run the 
music media, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy. They'll 
predict the fill for daytime radio and TV as well as 
2008's classic balladeers did (yeah, thanks), but will 
naturally hedge away from anything commercially 
unproven. So far, fair enough - most Plan B content, 
being independent, marginal, cult, won't make it. 
What's weirder is how this year's list seems not to 
track what's happening in club culture. Perhaps, as 
the name suggests, nightlife is its own demi-monde. 

" Madness. They're just not ready, are they? 
Once it's established and the boss can't have 
a go at them for being experimental, they'll do it," 
crows Toddla T down iPhone from home, prepping 
for a 'party bus' commute to Birmingham's 
thousand-plus Bigger Than Barry club (own blurb: 
"morbidly obese rave up"; translation: BASS). 

Anyway, the upshot is that while Act One of the 
recession will be incongruously soundtracked by 
hi-end retro-sheen just as elsewhere, bottom-heavy 
music from dubstep to funky - and, further out, 
bassline to donk- are swallowing dancefloors like 
a mudslide (ironically, the BBC-approved Kid Cudi 
and La Roux have both had their biggest hits to date 
with such remixes). 

You can count three recent singles into this 
movement: 'Sound Tape Killin' (hypnotically looped 
vocal over oozy millipede bass), 'Manabadman' 
(relentless braggadocio, accelerating drum rolls) 
and 'Shake It' (jump-up low end waddle, with pretty 
piano touches). All come from Toddla T, but, that 
said: "I don't play my own shit when I deejay, me- 

38 1 plan b 

I don't think it's up enough . . . my stuff's like - songs, 
innit? But there's always the energy of clubs in there, 
a beat/bass thing." Yeah -beats, bass, bleeps -and 
dancehall. From Sheffield. Say what? You heard. 

If Sheffield's ur-sound was blueprinted by 
Cabaret Voltaire (though poppier contemporaries 
scored more direct success elsewhere), its minimalist 
renaissance came courtesy of Warp. And when 
that label belatedly left for London, the stage 
was cleared for 'Bleep City' to reinvent itself again. 
I ask Toddla if, like Shottingham (Nottingham) and 
Wolftown (Wolverhampton), the region has its own 
hip-hop name yet. "We call it New Yorkshire," he 
replies, expanding chirpily: "If you're a knobhead 
in Sheffield, then you can fuck off. Simple. And 
people will be very vocal about that. Well - people 
that I'm around, anyway- the music community." 
Did you choose to hang around with those people? 
"Well, [laughs] you've got no choice. . . " 

Indeed, The Artist Formerly Known As Tom Bell 
got lumped with his stage name via the cheerful 
hazing he was subjected to in hanging around with 
the city's largely older crowd of DJs. Sheffield sets 
infamously and routinely free-wheel through bass- 
heavy genres " dancehall mashed up with 
garage, but I could see the A to the B, like a door 
opening even deeper. . .it's never really been a club 
scene here - it's more warehousey things, really 
raw environments that allow people to be really - 
forward- and not compromise the music. People 
used to go to Northern Soul nights just so they could 
get off their head -it's nothing new, man..." 

That's not quite true, though. His incoming 
debut album, SkankySkanky, uses digital dancehall 
as a template, but its strength is in matching that 

most promiscuous genre's hunger for down-low 
and hi-contrast. The relentless hedonism of the 
singles is flanked by smoothie gospel about 
lonesome hormones, asymmetric almost-pop songs 
about 'Rice And Peas', weather and . . .fruit theft, 
all of this garmed-up in four seasons' worth 
of gleaming bleeps - bell-like to timpani-flat, 
laser-speed to ululating and granular. "What 
was good about the album was I thought: 
I can finally do a soul track, an R&B track... I'm 
so happy with it that /fit gets slated -fuck it, I'm 
right happy with it. There's not a track on there 
that doesn't represent something about me. " 

And not just him - up-front: long-term MCs 
Mr Versatile (dangerously lilting sing-song delivery) 
and Serocee (rapidfire baritone) lend extra character 
tothejokerish pop and bigger bangers, respectively. 
Crowding in behind: Roots Manuva, Tinchy Stryder, 
Benjamin Zephaniah and Hot Chip's Joe Goddard. 
Toddla's preferred method is to perfect the riddim, 
and hand it blank to the particular collaborator, 
exquisite corpse-style: "Sometimes I'll try to direct 
'em. . .but, generally, the point is to get their magic 
on your shit. It becomes a different thing I'd never 
have thought of." 

He's also breaking out his own rapping alter-ego, 
T Willy: "I've only started fucking around with vocals 
in the last year and a half, really. . . " What d'you 
think will most surprise people when they hear it? 
"Probably the honesty of the lyrics." An atypical 
track called 'No Kip' illustrates this over a skeletal 
drumtrack - diaristic doubt on a record of extravert 
gestures and ensemble choruses: "Catching text 
messages at like 8am/ And I ain 't ready for head 
to the pillow yet/Just got laptop open, no one's 

online so I'm tappin ' refresh/And worrying about 
things that don 't need to be the best/And worrying 
about death." 

It's not hard to see why he's so perpetually 
stressed. Yr live schedule for the months ahead 
is pretty harsh, I say, underplaying the night-after- 
night-after-night that's annexed his MySpace page. 

"Tell me about it- my agent is working 
me hard." 

You seem to get booked to play all kinds of 
different shows -dance, hip-hop, indie... 

"I just turn up, do my thing and, if you don't 
like it. . .blame the promoter." 

T Willy's other outing on the record is a song 
called 'Road Trip'. 

"That's a true story. Wei I... it's exaggerated. But. 
A few years ago, I got booked to play Newcastle for 
fuck all money on MySpace - cool cool cool - got on 
the bus, the train, proper long mission - and when 
I got there it was just some scenester bullshit. There 
was this band on - really ironic indie fucking shit- 
the sound system was fucked ... I thought: what am 
I doing here..?" But: "Kids aren't as narrow as they 
were. Some of the younger people — 18, 19, 20 — 
know everything, all the deejays, the bands. . . " 

This is the 2 1 st century. No time for boundaries. 
Information gets everywhere. But how about 
regionally? Hudson Mohawke claims crowds 
outside London go crazier. "The more north, 
the more mental they get, the more they drink. " 

Similarly, on a MySpace page tricked out 
with flash, buttons and audio, he's given some 
prominence to advertising the episodes of Toddla 
TV he shoots on the road. With 1 8 episodes on 
YouTube, is he getting a bit (a lot) obsessed..? 

"At the moment, I'm travelling around so much, 
meeting so many charismatic people - none of it's 
really forced. As long as I've got my camera on me, 
I will see crazy shit. All the time. It's just a case of 
being quite militant- making sure I'm recording..." 

He laughs. "The other day, when Twitter went 
offline, I started getting panics, me... it's a madness 

- people always know what you're doing. (Pause) 
It's wicked, though..." 

Meanwhile, of the nine UK-based alleged 
Sounds of 2009, eight are actually Sounds of 
London. Hmm. I ask Toddla if he's faced much 
capital disdain, but he's not complaining: "The only 
thing I get is accent issues -when they mention it, 
I'm like: what are you talking about, you?" Cause 
to you, they're just talking Cockney. "Exactly. " 

It's unlikely bassline or donk will capture LDN's 
media centre, but the rise of funky plus continuing 
broadening of dubstep (from glumstep to funstep, 
largely through Scots) suggests we're oozing 
toward a period when genres are becoming looser 
again. And once more, it's the bass range where 
they tend to overlap. "That's what I love about funky 

- it's bashy, housey, soulful, garagey, dark. . . " 

What's ultimately more important is that one 
of the UK's most fruitful music scenes is seen to be 
in the wider mix again. Sheffield may not quite have 
the pedigree of Manchester, but it does have a lot in 
common with the confident independence of Tony 
Wilson's city-state. And if anything, brilliantly, this 
particular region affects to care less for London than 
vice versa (Pulp and the Arctic Monkeys being recent 
refuseniks). What keeps Toddla in Sheffield? 

"The fact that if I start to go out of line, I'll get 
told straight away. The studios are wicked, people 

are proper safe, there's a sound here that 
I developed. Mainly, it's the groundedness thing - 
without that, I'd be playing electro in fucking 
Shoreditch - with pointy shoes on. . . " 

The album's closer, 'Better', starts with an 
account of a pre-fame relationship failing, detours 
through, urn, 'acquaintances' made on tour and 
slows to a final high as he - elsewhere so exquisitely 
disrespectful toward scenes - gives the final minutes 
of his debut over to acknowledge his indebtedness 
to his peers and community. It's about as humble 
a curtain-call as you could ask for. 

"The whole reason I'm doing what I'm doing 
is 'cause I'm from here," he says. "And I'm not 
going to these places to film them, I'm already there 
and I've got a camera on me. I plug it into my laptop 
on the train if I've got a longjourneyandeditit- 

'Kids aren't as 
narrow as they 

get it online - it's just another little way to 
push things." 

BBC: Toddla T, Micachu, Tim Exile, Hudson 
Mohawke (etc, etc) may not be among yr Sounds 
Of 2009, but they are mine. And y'know what? The 
best place to push things forward is at the edges. 

"It works when people are ready for it. If they're 
not... 'sorry'." 

plan b 1 39 



j WW\ YX-v) 

nail it down 

Words: Everett True 

Rock'n'roll und sturm und 
drang # with Melbourne's 
The Drones 

I'd like to take my leave of you now. Flies buzzing 
round my head, the stench of the feed to come 
infiltrating every nostril. Hey, narrator. You on 
your knees wrenching ecstasy and hailstorms 
out your effect pedals: you at the back hurling 
your body into a phalanx of cymbals, concussing 
the drummer with a shimmy of the backbone: you 
with your refusal to engage in eye-to-eye contact: 
you, mouthing the words to a tale that's been 
recounted millions of times before yet never so 
cynically. Before I depart the arena for the final 
time, please: give me a definition of rock'n'roll. 


" Little bands that move. That's all that Talking 
Heads have in common with Chuck Berry and 
Einsturzende Neubauten. Rock'n'roll is mobile." 

In the John Wyndham novel, the Triff ids are scary 
walking plants that wander through life, lashing out 
at unwary passers-by. In Australian rock lore, The 
Triff ids - that grandiose, twisted storytelling band 
from the Eighties - barely exist anymore; certainly 
not as an influence 1 ... everything washed away 
in the Nineties and Noughties shitstorms of tepid 
NME guitar indie and tame Pitchfork country indie. 

everything is miscellaneous 

A few months ago, I was at a barbecue and 
someone had brought along a 'best of 2008 
homemade compilation, full of Arcade Fire this 
and Jenny Lewis that and dribbles and drabs of 
bands who think that, just cos they can't sing with 
any emotion or play guitar with any passion, if they 
slow the whole process down they'll sound soulful. 
And I was thinking: folk don't want to process 
alienation, don't want to embrace dissent, don't 
fancy fucking with loneliness because the in-vogue 
haircut is always the cheapest is always the most in- 
vogue. What has Amazon's limitless marketplace 
done for us except to limit our choices? 2 

And I was thinking: what's so wrong with 
architecting about dance? 3 

So that was one front. 

On another, 'alternative' Australian music 
websites like Mess And Noise are still running 
hate articles, 12 months on, based around the fact 
I had the nerve to suggest online the Australian critic 
isn't all what (s)he could be. That perhaps critics 
can add to the dialogue, enhance enjoyment and 
understanding of music, that what they do can still 
be a craft, an art form, even within a new world 
order that embraces inclusiveness as a marketing 
slogan and where any twat with a Twitter can 
be the next Simon Reynolds. 

residual value (pt 2) 

Why do you play rock'n'roll? 4 

Gareth Liddiard (vocals, guitar): "It's easier than 
everything else." 

Dan Luscombe (guitar): "It's the whole fucking 
ceremony of things." 

Gareth: "I used to play saxophone and listen 
to Charlie Parker, and think I'd never be able to 

do that. And then you hear Hendrix and think, 
'Maybe. Maybe I could be a charlatan.'" 

It's not a competition. 

"No, it's not," the singer agrees, "but it's a lot 
of hard work. We play this music because we're 
lazy. It's terrible how everything gets dumbed down. 
We're no exception." 

The Drones are an Australian band. One listen 
to their current album, the brutal, brittle Havilah, 
will prove that -these guitars skew and skewer 
with a horror rarely heard since Rowland S Howard 
in his prime, the vocals drip with an inclemency 
and sarcasm and love for dusty cattle tracks rarely 
witnessed since Dave Graney began torturing 
Melbourne's derelict bohemian inner city suburbs 
with The Moodists in 1 980. 5 Also, The Drones have 
released five studio albums, but they had to leave 
(and return to) Australia before they began 
to get respect back home. 6 

The Drones are an Australian band, but that's 
a term of abuse where I come from in Brisbane. 

Gareth: "Yeah, Australia has a problem 
with that." 

Dan: "A lot of bands are scared to reference 
Australia, but equally I don't like all these twee 
pop bands that sing about, 'Sitting on a porch 
in Brisbane/And I walk through the Valley mall'. . . " 

There are a lot of nice porches in Brisbane. 

Dan: "You've got the NME and Mojo and Rolling 
Stone from America, that's the sort of shit that 
people read in Australia - and then people got the 
idea that rock'n'roll comes from those two places. 
Rock'n'roll is an English-speaking music, and it 
comes from Irish music and folk music, a little bit 
of African music, some blues scales. . . Everyone 
rips everyone else off. Accept that and you can be 
Australian. You don't have to be Pete Townsend. " 

I'm assuming it wasn't deliberate on your part. 

Gareth: "There's a whole shame about being 
Australian. It's stupid. When we go to America 
people are like, 'What the fuck is it with all your 
dudes singing in American accents?' Americans 
don't sing with Australian accents. It makes no 
fucking sense. It shits me. I just don't understand it." 

doing their whole Kooks or is it Mystery Jets or is it 
Wolf And Cub thing because that's what Amazon 
and two decades of indie mainstream rock has 
trained us to expect. And everyone seems to love it - 
everyone except me. 

You see, all I require from my time spent away 
from my beautiful home in The Gap (at gigs, at 
festivals, enjoying music) is to ride the Ferris wheel 
and witness a vigorous re-enactment of Mark 
E Smith's three 'r's ("Repetition, repetition and 
repetition") being tormented and mutated 
so wantonly that they become the three 's's 
("Spontaneity, spontaneity and spontaneity"). 

I don't know where you've been looking, 
but doesn't all great rock'n'roll fall between these 
two phrases? 

And where am I going to find it? With the amps 
turned medium-high, perfect sound forever, all 
elements of chance wiped as the necessity to have 
the lighting tuned into the fifth drum roll, second 
encore, obviates everything else? When Coldplay 
invites Mercury Rev to open for them at Brisbane 
Arena? Where the ability to grow a beard while 
you're still in your twenties outshines everything 
else? (Women obv need not apply.) 

Quick, turn to The Drones! Those guitars, man 
-those fucking guitars! Turbulent, moist, sniping, 
wrenched... Gareth on his knees, hammering 
several shades of puce out his pedals, solos casually 
tossed into the humidity, words screamed and 
discarded, bassist Fiona Kitschin oblivious to 
the crowd, Michael Noga raging and controlled 
on drums, Dan stolid and. . .those guitars! 

lean not resist the call of the wild. 

And that is why I must take my leave of you now. 

What keeps you awake at night? 

Gareth: "Nothing. I sleep well." 

What's wrong with you? Are you well-adjusted? 

Gareth: " I just figured that if I'm going to get 
through life I'm going to fucking sleep and everyone 
else can get fucked." 

Dan: "I'm the opposite. I'm a worrier by nature, 

'The Australian guitar sound 
is a broken-down sound, weird 
ectoplasmic f ucked-up-ness, 
psychedelic bad trip...' 

There's also something about the guitar sound. . . 

Gareth: "It all depends what you listen to when 
you grow up. It was all [Australian] X, Kim Salmon 
And The Surrealists, The Saints, fucking Rowland 
Howard and The Birthday Party. . . " 

You remind me of The Triff ids, the way you 
construct lyrics. ("Don't go getting married/You 
can only change her name, " Gareth spits on 'The 
Drifting Housewife': "Her hair was wet/Her shoes 
were damp/And as she travelled on the weather 
licked her like a stamp, " he howls, demented on the 
epic 'Nail It Down'.) You're from that story-telling 
tradition, that thunderhead of broken emotions and 
wayfaring sea shanty dreams. . . 

Gareth: "There is a way of defining the 
Australian guitar sound - a broken-down sound, 
weird ectoplasmic fucked-up-ness, psychedelic 
bad trip..." 

post-structuralism (strategy) 

So I'm backstage at a rained-on indie festival in 
Victoria, and I'm breathing in the cleansing fumes 
of tobacco and beer. The Kooks or is it Mystery 
Jets or is it Wolf And Cub are onstage being The 
Kooks or is it Mystery Jets or is it Wolf And Cub 

and there's nothing more annoying for people like 
me than people like him. I hate you, Gareth." 

Gareth: "I hate myself, but I don't lose sleep 
over it." 

1 .Actually, they got inducted into the Australian 'Hall 
Of Fame' in 2008, 1 9 years after they disbanded and 
nine years after the death of principal songwriter 
David McComb. 

2. Chris Anderson's The Long Tail would argue otherwise. 

3. 1 believe QUT in Brisbane has several post-doctorate 
students studying precisely this subject. 

4. I'm using the phrase in its basic, most traditional sense 
(cf, this year's incredible Trikont compilation Roll Your 
Moneymaker: Early Black Rock'N'Roll, 1948- 1958). 

5. 1 could equally have mentioned The Scientists, The Go- 
Betweensjhe Laughing Clowns, The Apartments, 
Weddings Parties Anything, God. . . 

6. The Drones also live in Melbourne, but originally hail from 
Perth. No one in their right mind would choose to remain 
in Perth, same way no one in their right mind would choose 
to live in Milton Keynes. 

plan b 1 41 

black and beyond 

Words: Joseph Stannard 
Illustration: Jussi Brightmore 

Far across the ocean from the movement's 
place of genesis in Norway, black metal is laying 
down roots in the United States Of America, 
as outfits like Cobalt, Wolves In The Throne 
Room and Averse Sef ira use the music's 
frostbitten rush as a mouthpiece for radical 
ecology, basement invention, patriotic 
expression and elemental anger 

Forget Norway. As far as black metal is concerned, 
Norway is little more than a memory. The iconic 
portraits of Peter Beste are hauntingly beautiful, 
sure, but they are historical documents, ghosts 
of an era long since passed. Since the turn of the 
millennium, it has become clear that the razor- 
beaked buzzard of black metal has flown from 
its original roost high up in the forest glades 
of Scandinavia, migrated and settled, at least 
for the moment, in the havens of Eastern Europe, 
France and North America. Where once the likes 
of Judas Iscariot, Demoncy, Von and Absu raged 
in the face of overwhelming indifference, nowadays 
the United States Of America is recognised as 
a fertile breeding ground for what Darkthrone 
once termed "ravishing grimness". Not only that, 
but over the past few years many US bands have 
been at the forefront of the metal subgenre's 
expansion into uncharted territory, bands and 
artists as diverse as Xasthur, Leviathan, L'Acephale, 
Velvet Cacoon, Krieg and Wrath Of The Weak 
splicing the fuzzed-out alienation of the original 
model with elements of doom, post-rock, ambient, 
noise and shoegaze. 

But how important is America to its black metal 
bands? It's hard to second guess, given the range 

42 | plan b 

of attitudes and ideologies black metal now 
represents, worldwide. While the warped 
nationalism of the recently released Varg Vikernes 
and the emergence of National Socialist black 
metal all over the map -even infrickin' Canada, 
ferchrissakes - might lead us to expect a tendency 
towards militant patriotism, the truth is broader 
and more complex. Some bands, such as scene 
deserters Nachtmystium, claim an apolitical 
orientation, an assertion perhaps supported by 
the wide range of influences exerted on their music, 
including blues, psychedelia and jazz, yet somewhat 
muddled by the fact that their early releases were 
put out by labels with far right connections - a fact 
that has led to the band's recent ejection from a 
prominent US festival bill. Others adhere to various 
interpretations of the Satanic principles which 
shaped black metal in the early Eighties via the 
early work of Venom and Bathory. Recently, 
however, a handful of American bands, most 
prominently Olympia's Wolves In The Throne 
Room, have aligned themselves with radical 
environmentalism. Mythologisingthe Pacific 
Northwest region of Cascadia, Wolves express 
a desire for something 'true' lacking in day-to-day 
American life. Interestingly they consider their 

music fundamentally American largely because 
of this lack. 

"We feel very connected to the place that 
we live, but we also are stricken by a sense of 
existential alienation and rootlessness," explains 
drummer Aaron Weaver. "Our music yearns for 
tradition, but as Americans, we have no traditional 
culture to call our own. Obviously, this feeling 
transcends Wolves In The Throne Room. It is 
a universal reaction to modernity - maybe it 
has always been a part of the human experience. 
Wolves In The Throne Room is part of a process 
of reconnection to a spiritual lineage. There 
is a nascent local mythology that is naturally 
developing in Cascadia. This revealing of a 
mythic dimension to a place happens when 
groups of individuals work, consciously or not, 
to bring it out from the very rocks and soil. " 

Wolves In The Throne Room find kindred 
spirits in their Cascadian neighbours Fauna, whose 
recent debut on Aurora Borealis, the towering Rain, 
expresses a furious misanthropy balanced by 
a boundless admiration for nature. Their contempt 
for the semi-conscious wastefulness of America 
at large is tempered by a deep affection for their 
immediate surroundings. 

"The pathetic concept of 'America' means 
nothing to Fauna. Cascadia, the name given for 
the bioregion we inhabit, is much more relevant 
and worth considering. Existing as another 
abstraction placed upon the Land by domesticates, 
it has obvious limitations, but broadly speaking 
it describes what is 'home' for us. Unfortunately, 
both of these terms obscure the fact that this region 
is known by a host of other names by its indigenous 
inhabitants, on whose land the descendants 
of Europeans currently transgress. " 

Texan outfit Averse Sefira, whose philosophy 
is derived not from The Satanic Bible or Beyond 
Good And Evil but from a highly individualised 
reading of Kabbalah, do not share the deep 
ecological concerns of Wolves In The Throne Room 
or Fauna, but according to bassist Wrath, the band 
holds a similarlyjaundiced view of the United States. 

"America is so starkly against the nature and 
intent of black metal that I can't even begin to 
address it in succinct terms. " 

And yet, like Wolves and Fauna, Averse Sefira 
describe their specif ic location within the USA with 
a lyricism verging on the romantic, Wrath's eulogy 
a reminder, if any were needed, that America is an 
ever-shifting, living collage of fiction, half-truth and 

plan b 1 43 

reality, its conditions therefore ideal not only for 
nurturing an equivalent to the mythically resonant 
Scandinavian black metal, but for almost infinite 
variations on the original model. 

"Texas, while still distinctly American, is 
something different in that it has a history and 
a mythos all its own. Robert E Howard, the creator 
of Conan, lived his whole life here. We have the 
Alamo, cowboys, guns, chainsaw massacres, 
the best little whorehouse, Willie Nelson, Roky 
Erickson, and [Texan death metal legends] 
Necrovore. Averse Sefira has travelled the world, 
and no matter where we go the idea of Texas 
is fascinating to people, even if it is somewhat 
exaggerated. It is one of the few remaining symbols 
of a wild and boundless land in contrast to the 
country around it, and I like this association. 
America is just a nation. Texas is a legend." 

Colorado's Cobalt, a duo comprising Erik 
Wunderand Phil McSorley, apply yet another twist 
to the idea of national identity within USBM and 
its offshoots. Cobalt's three albums to date - 
War Metal, Eater Of Birds and Gin - chart the 
band's rapid evolution beyond the early influence 
of raw, primitive units such as Canada's Blasphemy 
and Finland's Satanic Warmaster. Indeed, Eater 
Of Birds and Gin feature contributions from 
ex-Swans vocalist Jarboe and occasionally evoke 
the pioneering skronk of early-to-mid-Eighties 
NYC bands such as Sonic Youth, Mars and DNA. 
One extra-musical issue unavoidable in the context 
of this discussion isthatof McSorley's military 
service. Generally speaking, us pinko rock 
fans prefer our musicians to rail against the 
establishment, rather than reinforce it, the ultimate 
expression of this being Arthur editor Jay Babcock's 
merciless May '96 roasting of mainstream US metal 
band Godsmack, who allowed their music to be 
used in Navy recruitment adverts. For leftist 
metalheads, and certainly for milksop indie kids, 
the idea of someone we'd otherwise admire 
fighting and killing- that's FIGHTING and KILLING - 
in the name of the good ol' US of A is even more 

'People think the USA is the 
problem. Give me a break. 
Rome fell. Greece fell' 

disturbing than the cranky pro-Republican 
outbursts of Royal Trux. For sure, Cobalt aren't 
quite Grand Funk Railroad, but they have absolutely 
no problem whatsoever in being considered 
'an American band'. 

"I wouldn't classify the idea of being American 
as a specific focus," says Erik. "Phil and I grew up 
in Colorado. So in many ways we have all kinds of 
pride being who we are. America is a great country. 
And now that I think about it, I hate all the 
bitchiness of common culture. People think the USA 
is the problem. Give me a break. Rome fell. Greece 
fell. All these people feeling remorse for being a part 
of a great monolith in world history. So, in the end, 
I feel absolutely no guilt about being an American. 
My grandfather flew a B-52 bomber at the tail end 
of World War II. Should 
I feel remorse for 
patriotism? Fuck no. 
But that's not the point. 
People are too caught 
these days." 

So would you 
describe yourselves 
as patriots, then? 

- Erik Wunder, Cobalt 

"Yeah, why not? We have no shame in free 
speech and expression. We could get into some 
deep conversation on the deterioration of these 
values, etc. . .but no shame in the country that 
made us who we are. And who we will become. " 

Tellingly, and hinting at an identical logic to that 
of Averse Sefira, Wolves and Fauna, Wunder also 
expresses an unreserved appreciation for the region 
he and McSorley call home. 

"Mike Colorado. It's a very beautiful state. The 
thinnest state in the country by the latest numbers. 
A lot of scenery, and a lot of space to clear your 
mind. Very primitive and open, if that's what you're 
looking for." 

reign of the malicious 

Received wisdom would have it that USBM has 
long since shed its corpse-painted stepchild status. 
Optimists point to the emergence of reclusive 
auteur figures such as Malefic (aka Xasthur) and 
Wrest (aka Leviathan), the growing success of Illinois 
'Black Meddlers' Nachtmystium and the rise of 
independent labels such as Southern Lord, Full 
Moon Productions, 20 Buck Spin, Battle Kommand, 
Profound Lore and tUMULt (to name a few of the 
most prominent) as evidence that America can take 

44 1 plan b 

us black metal 

its place alongside France and Eastern Europe 
as a contemporary BM coldspot. Meanwhile, the 
Scandinavian motherland flails, burdened with 
the weight of history, unable to compete with the 
innovations produced elsewhere in the world. There 
are still those who sneer at USBM, of course, but the 
quantity- if not always the quality - of the music is 
undeniable. According to Averse Sefira, though, 
increased recognition does not necessarily entail an 
easier ride for the individual bands. Ratherthan bask 
in their newly conferred hipness, Wrath rails against 
the isolation of 'being USBM'. 

"I think it has held us back in everyway 
possible," he complains. "It cut us off from a large 
part of our intended audience, it has continued 
to make touring or playing festivals in Europe an 
expensive proposition, and it has often led our work 
to be treated as an oddity or an exception rather 
than just being accepted like any other entry. 
I've never liked it; being in a black metal band 
in America is fucking thankless." 

Furthermore, Wrath is sceptical regarding 
the actual health of the US scene, viewing its 
high-end output as the responsibility of a handful 
of tenacious veterans. 

" Europeans keep telling me that the US scene 
is really doing something at the moment, but 
I'm unable to detect it myself, " he shrugs. "To me 
productivity is not defined by quantity but rather 
quality and relative impact. Some would point 
to Nachtmystium as an example but they're just 
one band and I don't consider them black metal 
at this point, I don't know if they would disagree. If 
you really look closely at most everything significant 
coming out of the US at the moment, you'll find that 
it is at the hands of the same people who have been 
at this for a decade at the minimum. Absu [Texan 
'Mythological Occult Metal' demigods and one 
of the longest serving BM-affiliated bands in the US] 
is 18 years old this year!" 

To Wrath, the current dormant status of 
Norwegian black metal is irrelevant, that scene's 
place in history already secured. 

" Norway reached critical mass in what, 1 994? 
I think they feel their work is done in many ways. 
Vikings are like that -they conquer the world and 
then go home with the satisfaction that they 
changed things forever." 

For their part, Fauna see little of worth in the 
concept of a musical community beyond that 
of their own band. 

"We are really not engaged in any USBM scene, 
so it is hard to comment. What we see from an 

'Texas is one of the few remaining 
symbols of as a wild and boundless 
land in contrast to the country 

arOUnd it' - Wrath, Averse Se 

outside perspective is appalling, and has led us to 
refrain from engaging with that world any more 
than is necessary. What little there is of worth 
seems to exist outside of any identifiable scene, 
as is usually the case with meaningful art. There 
would seem to be a lot of fetishising of esoteric 
aesthetics with little to no engagement with actual 
spiritual or philosophical practice. This is deeply 
troubling to us, as it threatens to cheapen the 
work of those who are truly dedicated to a pursuit 
of something deeper." 

Cobalt's ErikWunder, ardent admirer of Hunter S 
Thompson and Ernest Hemingway and hardly the 
type to hide himself away from the world, is similarly 
ambivalent, lamenting a lack of novelty and surprise 
in US extreme music. 

"There are some bands doing very good things, " 
he offers. "I like Wolves In The Throne Room. I like 
Jarboe's new album. I look forward to hearing the 
new Mastodon album. I don't know. As you get 
older, you seem to see how certain new bands 
are repeating the past, and it's no longer exciting. 
I look for heart and creativity in music. Show me 
something new. Please!" 

things viral 

Andee Connors, staff member of San Francisco's 
legendary Aquarius Records and label boss of 
tUMULt Records (Leviathan, Weakling, Creblev etal) 
is markedly more optimistic regarding the state of 
USBM in all its various manifestations. As a man 
bombarded with fresh morbidity on a daily basis, 
he characterises the US scene as "almost too 
healthy at this point - to the point where everyone 
with a CD burner and a four-track has a grim 
bedroom black metal band. In some ways it's 
awesome and liberating and exciting, and there 
have been some amazing discoveries, but at the 
same time there's been way too much mediocre 
and middling music being made. That said, it seems 
like as more and more people become interested 
in black metal in the US, especially folks who are 
new to metal, the music and the sound continues 

to grow and expand and become stranger, more 
hybridised, and more exciting. I'm psyched about 
it, can't wait to hear where it goes next. " 

Aquarius is one of the foremost international 
outlets for outer limits music, and its staff have been 
steadfast supporters of black metal, homegrown 
and externally sourced, for something close to a 
decade. Their mammoth email updates are helpful 
and intimidating in equal measure, heavy with 
intriguingly obscure names, tantalising descriptions 
and always, always bursting with genuine 
enthusiasm. I ask him what he thinks distinguishes 
USBM from its European counterpart. 

"It's definitely unique, in several different 
ways. The main one being that since its third 
wave, or maybe even fourth wave, the music 
is informed by so many other influences beyond 
just black metal. Where the classic combos were 
weaned on Bathory and Venom and the like, plenty 
of the younger USBM acts were raised on Slint and 
Big Black, indie rock, post-rock, Eighties metal, what 
have you. And there seems to be a preponderance 
of bedroom USBM, similar in spirit to the Nineties 
college rock bedroom folk movement, in that it's this 
super personal expression, one that is fully realised 
by a single person, which imbues it with a definite 
magic and spirit. Beyond that, there does seem 
to be a 'sound' developing, BUT, unlike the 
Norwegian sound, it's much harder to pin down: 
you would never say Leviathan sounded like 
Xasthur, but there is something similar, a subtle 
sonicthread running through both." 

One of the USBM artists Andee mentions is 
Umesh Amtey, the sole musician behind black/ 
doom outfit Brown Jenkins and like Averse Sefira, 
a product of Texas. Amtey has been channelling 
his obsessions (Lovecraft, depression, huge riffs) 
into music since 2006, resulting in two EPs (2007's 
'Dagonite' and 2008's 'Welcome To The Bitterness') 
and an album (2008's Angel Eyes) which pitch 
the listener into a deep chasm of despair through 
which Amtey's thick fields of reverberative noise 
sluggishly ascend. More reminiscent of early Earth 

Averse Sefira 

is enriched by, their work. Existing on the fringes 
of the genre but yet to achieve full recognition 
outside a relatively small band of followers, 
Amtey's perspective on the USBM 'scene' is more 
than likely shaped by isolation - in actual fact, 
he seems to have a greater perspective than most. 

" I don't know what to think of the 'scene' 
in the US right now," he admits. "I suppose 
the fact that we write it with quotation marks, 
supposedly ironically, says a lot. One is supposed 
to think of a scene as a cohesive 'whole', a 
'movement', but I don't know how much of that 
is just created by journalists with a political bent. 
I don't know or talk to that many people in the 
US these days. I have a few friends here and in 
the surrounding states, etc. but I don't know 
what they're really aligned towards or against. 
Everyone is so isolated these days. . . it's pernicious. 
It has got to the point where one automatically 
is suspicious if one feels somehow allied to 
anyone else." 

Unlike Averse Sef ira or Fauna, Amtey seems 
saddened by the lack of cooperation in the US 
underground, genuinely distressed by the same 
dog-eat-dog Darwinism that many BM bands 
would claim as their ideological foundation. 

"American bands are so competitive, so cruel 
and trivial, it can get very sad sometimes. It's that 
stupid capitalist hierarchy coming out again; 'Listen 
to us because we're better, pay more attention to 
us because we're at the top of our game, blah blah.' 
I honestly wonder if any of these bands understand 
that they often embody exactly what they're 
supposedly fighting against, and that they create, 
over and over, the culture they're supposed to be 
at war with. Maybe this contradiction, mediated 
and subconscious, is the real source of all of their 
ape anger." 

Amtey's outlook is distinctly refreshing, 
being largely free from self-aggrandising, 
macho statements of mythic import and, crucially, 
cognizant of a wider world of musical influence. 
He cites "Gang Of Four, Robert Johnson, Bauhaus, 
The Cure, Siouxsie And The Banshees, the Sex 

and Godflesh than anything by Burzum, the music 
of Brown Jenkins is monomaniacal, obsessive, 
implacable. There will be one further Brown Jenkins 
album, released later this year, after which Amtey's 
next project, The Ash Eaters, will emerge. Like 
Xasthur/Malefic and Wrest/Leviathan, Umesh 
is a prime example of the capacity of USBM 
for throwing up maverick figures armed with 
a self-contained world view which enriches, and 

'Our music yearns for tradition, but as 
Americans, we have no traditional 
culture to call our own' 

- Aaron Weaver, Wolves In The Throne Room 

Pistols, Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Autopsy, 
Merzbow, Prurient" as inspirations and whereas 
the likes of Averse Sefira view interest from outside 
with suspicion ("Hipster intrusion? No."), Amtey 
welcomes the attention. 

"I honestly can't consider such developments 
to be negative. We don't write music to be ignored. 
If people are drawn to this music and want to listen, 
I hope they hear something in it. Idon'tthink 
we're doing enough, honestly. There are still people 
in the black metal underground who think their 
versions of 'extremity' or personal expression 
aren't reified, as if they could say anything 
worthwhile at all outside of the solipsistic. 
Who cares about that in a world where 'serial 
killer' is simply a lifestyle choice? Worse, the 
black metal bands that want to be reified, 
commodified, bought and sold, so they can 
fill the absence left in their souls by dysfunctional 
families or whatever. 

"The more people brought to the edge of 
suicide, the better: especially if they survive, change, 
and prosper, especially if they gain some new 
strength... black metal is the abyss of all nihilistic 
negativism, there is nothing bleaker or darker. . . 

46 1 plan b 

us black metal 

Photo: Adam Collins-Torruella 

songs for the dark 

Words: Aquarius Records 

except the soul of the average American consumer. 
But I don't make any kind of lifestyle judgments. . . 
if people hear the music and it means something 
to them, good. They're reflecting it in some way. 
I hope they get as much out of it as they can. " 
In 2009, it is hard to shake the impression 
that black metal is no longer the province of 
an 'elite' - that it belongs to everyone and no-one, 
regardless of ethnicity, political orientation 
or geographical location. Of course, the more 
conventional outfits are wary of this idea, believing, 
as Averse Sefira do, that "the real transmissions 
will only be perceived by a very few who are properly 
attuned," and doubtless, without taking the 
populist route of a Dimmu Borgir or a Satyricon, 
it remains highly unlikely that this music will ever 
achieve massive commercial success. But regardless 

of what the self-appointed faithful may think, 
outsiders such as Pyramids, Menace Ruine, 
Mick 'Krallice' Barr and Dominick 'Prurient' 
Fernow are incorporating blackened elements into 
their respective musics, the results often proving 
inspirational. One could argue that the moment 
independent record stores such as Aquarius 
and Amoeba added a black metal rack and 
started featuring BM heavily in their email updates, 
the music was changed forever, opened up to 
endless hybridisation, no longerthe ideological 
property of a chosen few. In any case, Fauna 
believe this to be - note the additional resonance - 
a natural development. 

" It is entirely appropriate that at this historical 
moment many individuals are waking up to the 

reality of our situation. The total failure of 
civilization, what [environmentalist] Paul Shepard 
referred to as the worst thing to ever happen to 
humans, is apparent all over the globe. Threading 
through the collective unconscious at this time is 
the realisation that the world built by domesticated 
humans is not going to last, and the conditioned 
sense of allegiance with modernity is waning. In this 
context, black metal has currency, and we celebrate 
the ability of this musical form to contribute to the 
awakening of the organism we are. " 

It is perhaps to be expected that Wolves In 
The Throne Room would be similarly enthusiastic 
regarding the evolution of the genre, given that 
they are one of the outfits most conspicuously 
engaged in expanding its parameters. 

" I think that this has the potential to be 
a good development," states Aaron. "Our group 
is an example of this. Wolves In The Throne Room 
are inspired by certain aspects of European 
black metal, but we take from that culture 
what is appropriate for us and leave the rest in 
the dustbin." 

This may smack of heresy to BM 
fundamentalists; however, Aaron remains 
convinced that extreme music is most effective 
as an expression of an extreme ideology. 

"If you are interested in black metal, you 
need to realise that it is music that must venerate 
the local and the primitive. Black metal hates 
modernity. The modern age has been 
characterised by an ever developing globalism 
and cosmopolitanism that destroys the local and the 
primal. There isn't a moral character to this process, 
it just is. Black metal must always oppose globalism. 
It exists as a countervailing force that demands 
a return to a pre-modern mode. Most people 
will read this and assume that I propose returning 
to the Stone Age. That is very far from my intention. 
The point is that art needs to express an extreme 
and uncompromising spirit, not some watered- 
down 'political plan'." 

Meanwhile, as anyone familiar with the music 
of Cobalt might expect, Erik Wunder's attitude 
to origin and evolution is violent and liberating. 
Black metal, for him, is only the beginning. 

"That's the scene we started out in, so we 
have some ties there. But we're just trying to 
become more than the sum of our parts. We simply 
want to move music forward, and it has little to 
do with genre. People who get caught up in 
genre tend to be stagnant and boring. Fuck 
those people." 

USBM best 
sellers, courtesy 
of America's 
grimmest record 


Dead As Dreams (tUMULt) 

In some ways, Dead As Dreams possesses elements 
akin to the avant-garde, e> 
Swans, Skullflower, Steve Reich, or even Yoko Ono. 
Imagine an extensive, utterly mesmerising Hermann 
Nitsch piece, composed for a black metal band. 



From blasting, howling fury to moody, ambient 
blackness to off-kilter weirdness to droning riffery 
to soul crushing heaviness. What's truly remarkable is 
that one man, playing all the instruments himself, and 
recording at home, can evoke such strong emotions 
and invoke such musical demons. Original, evil, 
hateful, misanthropic, bizarre and truly black metal." 


Nocturnal Poisoning (Blood Fire Death) 

Beautifully primitive, droney stuff. . .all shades 
of grey, with strains of melody obscured in mists 
of mostly mid-tempo metallic mayhem a la ancients 
like Darkthrone and Burzum, achieving, even at speed, 
a trance-inducing dirge quality. 

Wolves In The Throne Room 

Diadem Of 1 2 Stars (Southern Lord) 

Fierce brutality ar 

ferocity mixed 

impossibly anguished emotionalism, all wrapped up 
in a blackness that is informed as much by suffocating 
dark ambience and mesmerising drones as it is grim 
black metal. 


Dead As Duck (Self-Released) 

Jabladav seem to approach metal from a distinctly 
non-metal background. Black Flag in the thanks list 
should give you some indication. Not that this isn't 
black and buzzy, heavy and thrashing and brutal. It is. 
One man, just guitar, bass, mellotron and drums, but 
there is a distinctly post-rock, punk rock vibe. 


Cperadt (Small Sacrifice) 

Riffs so distorted they seem to exist in a churning sonic 
morass, the guitars and vocals constantly on the verge 
of crumbling to pieces, the sound so blown out the 
drums are barely audible, beats buried way in the mix. 
But that drumless feel only adds to the organic sound, 
this heaving cloud of swirling sonic mayhem. 


Magnificent Glorification Of Lucifer (No Colours) 

Simultaneously weird as fuck (hypnotically croaking 
vocals, the aforementioned satanically overloaded 
lyrix, and strange, keening high-end guitar parts that 
make this the EERIEST black metal I've heard in aeons) 
while being fully metal with a rock'n' roll backbone: 
slow-to-mid tempos, memorable riffs, and killer old- 

plan b 1 47 

One song is played on 
the rims of wine glasses 

far south and out 

Words: Everett True 

Tennicoats photography: Bryan Spencer 

Tenniscoats/Gudrun Gut/The Deadnotes 

Powerhouse, Brisbane 

I cannot bewitch you. 

I cannot explain. 

There are maybe 1 00 people sprawled 
across the topmost floor of Brisbane's 
Powerhouse - some on cushions, some on 
sofas, most with their knees bunched up 
to their faces. No one knows where to look. 
Everyone whispers. Performance takes place 
where performance must. A free CD is handed 
out at the door by a brace of enthusiasts, 
celebrating the 40th (and final) concert in 
Lawrence English's Fabrique series, which 
started eight years back. More bodies cram 
in the rear (the idea of the oblique and avant- 
garde co-existing with the jacarandas and 
sports days out here in the tropics is pleasing 
indeed). On stage... um, not on stage because 
there is no stage... but in the centre, the 
Japanese duo of Tenniscoats are tapping out 
the magical 'Baibaba Bimba', the harmonies 

being taken up in wistful call-and-response, 
pastoral and deceptively gentle. A grand 
piano dominates. Guitar solos are plucked out, 
deconstructed but not snidely. The innards of 
the piano double as percussion. One song is 
played on the rims of wine glasses. The set 
lingers for weeks afterwards, brief but more 
than generous: psych-folk lapping in the 
slipstream, perhaps Orson Welles' The Third 
Man lit by Queensland sunlight, Glasgow 
among the spires. 

I cannot explain. 

I cannot attract you. 

Light and shadow flicker on the wall: 
Pixellated images of a Berlin hipster swaying 
in scarf and woollen top. Patterned, insistent 
electronic music pulsates from a laptop as 
Gudrun Gut bobs and smiles. Sometimes 
I think of Grace Jones (um, 'Nightclubbing') 
and sometimes I think of Jive Bunny (um, 
really) and sometimes I think of dark early 
Eighties Teutonic goth bands (um, such as 
Malaria!, um, which is being way wise after 
the fact) because it's kind of obvious but 
because it's kind of obvious I sway and bob 
and move to the beat. The music is too loud. 

The music reminds me of Electrelane. This 
is very good. I miss Electrelane more than 
anything from the UK. The music goes 
on two songs too long. Oh well. 

I cannot pretend. 

I cannot deny. 

I will not for one second be drawn on the 
fact The Deadnotes -trained 'in the school 
of error'; drummer Leighton Craig realising 
months ago that where drummers go wrong 
is when they cross their arms - aren't precisely 
the Music I Like: trumpet wailing mournfully 
over Sixties garage-rock riffs and fed through 
hideous analogue synths, 'Orange Trumpet' 
being the finest naive melody of its kind since 
that Maher Shalal Hash Baz single, the players' 
diffident presence increasing my pleasure. 
The first number is only hampered by the 
fact no one's switched the keyboard amp on. 
Trumpet howls as trumpet must. Drums rattle 
and clatter because that's what drums are 
built to do. There could be a three-year-old 
playing and it wouldn't sound anyfiner, 
or more random. I'm dreaming of Brighton 
and its dreaming streets but I don't know why, 
not anymore. 

Macbeth, Lo 

It's not easy playing to a mostly-empty 
room, midweek. Bishi's first gambit is to 
catch her earthbound sitar as its strap 
unhooks: "That could have been bad," she 
deadpans, one hand fixing, looking down 
and out across the dark, uncluttered floor. 

Without any more warning, she turns in 
toward her strings, plucks and discards 
desultory notes, the open air of some 
old school folk lament condensed into 
something cold, palmsize, sparkling. 
It's quite the desolate intro, and the room 
prolapses into it. We're going to wallow 
in perfected misery. That's cool. 

But she's no more possessed by a 
single mood as she is limited by genre. 
She digs the sitar's body into the hollow 
of her waist and upswitches into a sparse 
speedy tangle of metro-pop songs, chin 
up, eyes forward, dauntless as a warrior 
regarding another day at the front from 
under an arched eyebrow, occasionally 

sideswiping it with a smile. Splashes of 
melody colour the song's dioramas, beats 
are as comfortable cantering as they had 
been pacing. By the time she signs off, 
she's also ticked off car stereo disco and 
high contrast filmic sweep. My hands are 
applauding. My brain is taking notes. 

48 1 plan b 

new in town 

Words: Natalie Boxall 
Photography: Ian Phillip Smith 

Little Boots 

The Cornerhouse, Middlesbrough 

Little Boots is late. A mass of cosy-looking 
couples and hip kids in face paint and glitter 
clamour with every record change. Is she here 
yet? How small is she? What's she wearing? 

"Where've you been?" yells a young lad 
when she eventually appears, cloaked by 
bouncers. "Nando's." You can't imagine Kylie 
chowing down on piri-piri, but Blackpool's 
Victoria Hesketh, aka Little Boots, is an 
intriguing mix of ordinary and otherwordly. 

I first found her surfing channels, a doll- 
like face with pinned blonde plaits, swapping 
between a flashing toy and a piano. Turns 
out the toy is an instrument, a Tenori-On, and 
the song, 'Meddle', a prime electro-pop gem 
sharing a vein with La Roux's'ln For The Kill'- 
icy sheen cladding a warm heart, spiked with 
twisted lyrics: "Don't meddle with the heart/ 
Meddle with the mind/Meddle with the 
things that are inside/You don't know what 
you'll find, you don't know what she hides". 
Nobody puts Little Boots in the corner. 

Live, she's done up likethegeekatthe 
end of a teen movie. The plaits are gone, 
replaced by curly disco hair and gold sequins. 
From behind a wall of electronics and keys she 
shimmies downstage with just a mic in hand, 
channelling Goldfrapp, Beyonce- maybe 
even Bassey. Her band playstudiously- 
sideswipe fringes masking serious expressions 
-while she takes to the front, a small body on 
a large stage. Her opening song lifts the hook 
from 'Ring My Bell' which, when sung with 
completely different lyrics is disconcerting. 
She struts, she preens, she sings. She picks up 
a keytar towards the end, which dwarfs her, 
huge and plastic. She bashes away for a few 
bars, then jettisons it as abruptly. 

Maybe it's because I'd heard she was 
a bedroom writer, a self-made myth, but 
something doesn't feel right tonight. The 
Little Boots on my TV looked like someone 
interesting. A pretty young thing with a 
tough look about her, head firmly screwed 
on. I expected a bit more singer-songwriter, 
a lot less leaving all the playing to the boys. 

She writes awesome space pop - 'Stuck On 
Repeat' reeks of greatness - and she works a 
crowd very well, but if we're talking about 
progressive pop here, where songs aren't 
churned out by a factory and the stars aren't 
PR-trained and fame-hungry, well, can we not 
get a bit more multi-tasking going on? Can 
instead of just the girl? 

Can we not see the 
boys shimmy for 
their supper? 


ellars, Leeds 

I catch the arse end of Cowtown's set. 
They sound beastly. Immense. I curse the 
local bus service. Alexander Tucker's 

multitudinous loops of guitar and cello 
ebb and flow, building to a cacophonous 
final number. Drum Eyes bring the party. 
Somewhat inevitably, they're also a bundle 
of laughter. Bandleader Shige - aka DJ 
Scotch Egg - conducts his band mates with 
one hand, tussles with his laptop with the 
other. After a call and response episode 
involving Shige, a recorder and a whole 
crowd attempting to replicate the sound of 
a recorder being blown too hard, the next 

track lambasts us: piercing synthesisers 
and brutal guitar, only vaguely harnessed 
by bass and drums. Perpetuating the 
notion that music was put on the planet 
to skull-fuck its recipients, Notorious Hi- 
Fi Killers cut a mean line between Iron 
Butterfly and Flamin' Groovies. 

A final snapshot: Capillary Action. 
The most earnest band ever! Proof that the 
geek may indeed inherit the Earth - never 
before has one woman hit one note on one 
triangle with such intense intent. Some 
seriously accomplished musicianship, both 
tropical and effervescent. And i/eryearnest. 
Like, sometimes, you just have to tell a guy 
he's "too nice". 

I can't see the band for the fans, which 

forward as they start a set sharing - 
literally- one or two songs with their last 
visitation. Since the new record is exotic, 
psychotropic, as explosive with tendrils, 
spikes and flowers as a rainforest canopy, 
the tactic's pretty emblematic of this most 
happily confounding band's accelerating, 
yet serpentine progress. This is definitively 

disassemble on one hearing. 

Washed in green light before a red 
curtain, playing to wide-eyed, owl-hootin( 
silhouettes, the newly expanded line-up 

constructions. Sometimes it feels like an 
exotic musical with the connective tissue 
removed - that each of these songs, with 
their jangling wideshots, their powder 
blue close-ups, marks a pivot in a narrative. 
If tactics are liquid, technique is crystal- 
solid - dudes at the urinal after talk chops 
and tightness - and meaning may be 
elusive, but feelings, all the more 

overpowering Tor their non-specmcity, 
are already inside our gates. In 2007 they 
focused on filling space. In 2009, it's all 
they can do to stand their ground in the 
face of waves of love. Waves. Seriously. 

plan b 1 49 

everyone you 
see is caned is 
a time-saving 

dance for daze 

Words: Noel Gardner 

Bloc Weekender 

Butlins, Minehead 

A lot of nonsense gets chatted at Bloc. 
There are literally acres of chalets and 
benches and sofas and burger bar seats 
and most of the venues are big enough 
that you can loiter at the back and spout. 
Nice weather is near-perpetual and just 
assuming that everyone you see is caned 
is a handy time-saving tactic. 

One set of attendees you begrudge talking 
bollocks, however, are the MCs, especially 
those on the dubstep-crammed opening night 
of this three-day raverderby. The Bristolian 
clan that monopolise one room on Friday - 
Peverelist, Appleblim, Pinch, 2562 and 
Joker- would have mostly been better rinsing 
pure instrumental, or at least not having 
a bloke barking over the vocal samples. 
Appleblim's astounding first, vocal-free 20 
minutes and Joker dropping some cut'n'shut 
respliceof 'Oops (Oh My)' bear testament. 

Elsewhere, Rusko's debut live set is a 
textured meander that proves danceable 

without plumping for lumpen wobblebiz; 
veteran electro slammers Dynamix II are 
at worst functional and at best hypnotically 
brilliant; and Detroit minimal pioneer Daniel 
Bell, a smooth, near-infinite drive of 
mechanical euphoria. 

Saturday starts with minor irritations - 
missing Lee 'Scratch' Perry, then Tim Exile 
sabotaging his talent by having no idea of the 
limits of his appeal. Clue: it's in your malleable 
drum'n'bass, not your ventures into the crowd 
playing a human beatbox gizmo. After this, 
most things are a delight. Egyptian Lover 
emerges from his tomb, wraparound shades 
and girthy physique still intact, to play 45 
joyous minutes of prototypical electro-rap. 

Aphex Twin (above) and Hecker's two 
hours give seeming priority to the former to 
start with -the sort of fly's-eyes-view, million- 
angled rave that brings home the truism that 
there has never been a successful Aphex biter 
- and ends with autopsy videos and the sort 
of jarring, megaprocessed noise you would 
expect from Hecker. I skipped an hour of it 
to see DJ Godfather play the best set of the 
festival. Relentless ghettotech holler-alongs, 
cut up like grandma's Christmas dinner, with 

an MC, Omega, who understands his craft. 
Green Velvet's Chi-town techpower is nearly 
as great: his own 'La La Land' and 'Flash' aired 
avec live vox, breaking up scores of fearsomely 
loud, diamond-hard energy siphons. 

Italo and disco looms large on Sunday's bill, 
and we can partly thank/blame l-F for that. 
Tonight he shepherds agile electro hedonism 
into ornate disco. Alexander Robotnik 
continues in similar vein, with sexy results. 
DJ Bennetti is better known as William 
Bennett from Whitehouse; it's an open secret 
that he adores Eighties hi-NRG and Italo 
as much as atonal noise screech, but this 
set is surely Bloc's high (point of) camp. 
An unfaltering compliment, yes. 

Af rika Bambaataa contributes the sort 
of set you'd expect to be advertised on a 
provincial nightclub flyer featuring a bad 
drawing of Pam Grier. Carl Craig, Bloc's 
closing credit, is on form and then some. Two 
thousand people going collectively apeshit 
when Jeff Mills' 'The Bells' kicks in indicates 
that (a) these people walk a righteous path 
paved with classic techno and (b) the power 
of raves to trigger mass united emotions is 
a shade more than cash-in book hyperbole. 

Glasgow Implo 

13th Note, Glasgow 

Deep in the 1 3th Note basement, the 
atmosphere is thick with man. The T-shirts 
are black, the merchandise is knowingly 
offensive, and Eighties codpiece metal 
thrusts from the PA. 

Promoters At War With False Noise 
make mischief with the symbols of extreme 
music, arriving somewhere between 
nihilism and absurdity. Happily, the 
presence of several women on the bill, 

as well as some inventive drone outfits, 
helps counteract the grottier stuff. 

Mighty Glasgow cosmonauts Vom 
pilot their battle-worn Klingon Bird Of Prey 
through an industrial black hole to Planet 
Hawkwind. Atomiser (aka Kylie Minoise 
and Russell of Black Sun) are a blast, 
committing heinous acts on pop hits while 
dressed, respectively, as a skull-faced 
submissive and a Leigh Bowery bishop 
with smeared lipstick and kohl black eyes. 
Vomir's noise might be less vile than 

expected, but in the dark, with bags over 
our heads, it's certainly claustrophobic. 
Finally, maybe it's the frankincense 
burning on stage, but Skullf lower s set 
is heady and sensual. Beneath the blare 
of Matt Bower and Lee Stokoe's guitars 
lie twinkling melodies and shifting 
textures, while Samantha Davies' 
cello adds layers of psychedelic drone. 
It's like taking a hot tub near the mouth 
Stewart Smith 

Hudson Moh 

Plastic People, London 

Electro-funk is playing as I enter, but that's 
just an intro. We're here for the beat, the 
drop, the moment- when the fractured 
elements converge and tessellate at a holy 
point. Hudson Mohawke trades in these, 
paradoxically magnifying their impact 
by disguising them in grand garlands of 
shattered samples. 

The disembodied voice of (supposedly) 
Whitney Houston confirms - as if from 

50 1 plan b 


Words: Abi Bliss 

Hanne Hukkelberg 

Krakeslott, Skaland 

How far would you go to find quiet? To 
Oslo, where the snow pillows up against 
windows, coaxing the city to stay asleep 
until spring? To Tromso on Norway's Arctic 
edge, only to find the wilderness kept at 
bay by the world's northernmost university, 
1 8-hole golf course and McDonalds? So you 
take the ferry from Tromso to Senja, an island 
where empty roads wind through forests and 
fjords. Follow one to its end and you'll find the 
village of Skaland, and at its tip, the wooden 
house Krakeslott. 

Here is where Hanne Hukkelberg went 
to enjoy the silence. Oncethetumbledown 
'castle of crows' of its name, now it's a cross 
between an arts centre and the kind of 
rambling, gently bohemian guesthouse 
the Moomins might run should they tire 
of Finland. Hukkelberg stayed here for seven 
months last year, writing her new album Blood 
From A Stone, and tonight she's back to play 
it to an audience of Skalanders. 

It may be cosy in Krakeslott's living room, 
but if the convivial crowd whose seats push 
Hukkelberg, IvarGrydeland and Henning 
Sandsdalen into the corner generate enough 
warmth to keep outside's wind and ice at bay, 
then the trio push back with their own cold 
front. What on Hukkelberg's first album, Little 
Things, was shrouded in a benign layer of 
tinkly, kitchen-sink whimsy becomes starkly 
apparent here from the first song, 'Crack': 
she's a cool-eared sonic dissector, stitching 
together the sounds she needs and discarding 
the rest with a flick of the scalpel. Without 
drums and with just a few spare samples for 
percussion, the guitars and bass release single, 
trembling drops, each as crisp and isolated as 
the syllables she sings, yet each sounding as 
necessary and elemental as outside's balance 
of sea, sky and jagged peaks. 

'Midnight Sun Dream' follows, full of 
woozy, uneasy euphoria at drifting away from 
the certainty of the cycle of light and dark. If 
summer on an island at 69 degrees north takes 
away the possibility of hiding in shadows, then 
it seems that neither can you use background 
noise to muff le the sound you make in the 
world. Instead, Hukkelberg's songs have 

grown lean and fearless. 'In Here Out There' 
whisks the hollow rattle of mid-Eighties Sonic 
Youth guitar and Einsturzende Neubauten's 
fridge-bashing clangour out of the concrete 
grime and off to a place of fresh air and space. 
She clutches the mic and sways gently, purring 
and conspiratorial on 'Blood From A Stone'. 

Finding quiet isn't the same as finding 
peace, however, and 'No Mascara Tears' is the 
sound of the sun streaming mercilessly in on 
3am self-doubt. "Is she a performer? Is her 
pain real?" asks Hukkelberg over a bed of 
dejected guitar shivers, before taking to the 
grand piano for 'Salt Of The Earth', where 
delicate reverie is crushed under chords of 
colossal finality. It's the self-reliance of island 
life that brings the answers as 'No-one But 
Yourself casts its message to the heavens with 
abandon, the guitars heralding a returning 
pulse of joy: "There's no-one in the sky 
counting our sins, forgiving our mistakes. . . 
We run our own risks, no parachute, no 
shelter". She ends with 'Cast Anchor' from 
Little Things, a wry note to self about ceasing 
travel and staying still. In the moment of 
enraptured silence that follows, that no 
longer seems very wise. 

beyond the grave - the setting and 
announces HudMo's presence. She's 
one of many musical ghosts walking this 
room tonight.The aesthetic recalls Herbie 
Hancock and Prince, albeit filtered through 
the eyes of golden-era Nineties hip-hop 
gurus Dr Dre and DJ Premier, all of the 
above drowning in the digital glitter of 
an overheating Powerbook processor. 
It makes for a volatile soup, sometimes 
collapsing in on itself before we're sucker- 
punched with a kick/snare combo breaking 

its moorings to snap ribs. The beat, 
the drop the moment. It kicks in again, 
everything merges, everything erupts. 
Jamie Kingett 

Televised Crimewavi 
The Brute Chorus 

Uncle Albert's, Middlesbr 

I like James Steel's 'tache, which wiggles 
atop his harmonica. Tales of bad women 
and regret spurt from him, as men who 
look very much the wrong sort get on wit! 

TCB behind him. The Brute Chorus' lo-fi 
blues possess, intricate yet simple - see 
'Chateau', a spooked confessional, where 
a single drum and squelching bass weaves 
and threatens to build but never does, 

Unfinished business makes a good tale. 

Next up, Televised Crimewave contain 
two members of horror-pop beat combo 
Black Wire and, like a second marriage, 
you'd imagine they'd want to leave behind 
mistakes of old. Unfortunately, bar some 

interesting stage moves,they just don't 
make hearts beat faster. 

Chewed-up lyrics are spat over 
humdrum guitar lines that wiggle 
along with no inclination of end point 

drums drag and plod. Objects Of Desire 
is noir-indie by numbers. A stop. A cymbal 
crash. Back to the monotony. The singer 
carries on beckoning the crowd 
Natalie Boxall 

plan b | 51 


do something different 


Sat 30 May Z30pm 

The Viking of 6th Ave - 
The Music of Moondog 

The world of iconic blind American 
composer is brought to life. 


Britten Sinfonia 

Andi Thoma (Mouse on Mars) 

London Saxophonic 

Liam Noble 

Paul Clarvis 

Lightspeed Champion 

Max de Wardener & more 

Midnight Moondog organ recital: 

Paul Jordan and Stefan Lakatos 

Produced by the Barbican in association 
with Eat Your Own Ears. 

Sat 6 Jun 8pm 


+ Fujiya and Miyagi 

Rare UK visit from Detroit psych-rock 

Post-show DJ set: Matthew Herbert 

Produced by the Barbican in association 

Tickets from £10 

Book now 0845 120 7541 


Melt Banana 

Lash Frenzy vs Mort + Glatzc 


Omar Sou ley man + Group Don eh 

Prurient & Gold Cave 

Beestung Lips + Nicholas Bullet* 
Iron Fist Of The Sun 

Chrome Hoof 

/fcjtlienor + v special guests 

A Hawk And A Hacksaw 


fw. cap su 1 e , org* 

If eekeml %oo» 



Keith Rowe 

Carla Bozulich & Evangelista 

Eddie Marcon 

Adrian Utley 


Dimension X 

Trio Arco 

Ghost Box/Julian House 

John Edwards 

Helene Breschand 

Rick Reed 

Drew Mulholland 

Trembling Bells 


Duck Baker Trio 

Bill Thompson 

Notes From The Underground 

Neil Davidson 

Clothes Line Saga Blues 

29, 30 & 31 May Tolbooth Stirling Scotland 
For tickets & a brochure, call 01786 27^000 i 




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I Tickets £15 Advance + Booking Fee - Per city | Check website for Lineup regional variations. 

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Neil Young, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Aphex Twin, Bloc Party, Jarvis Cocker, Yo LaTengo,The Jayhawks, 
Spiritualized, Michael Nyman, Throwing Muses, Saint Etienne, The Jesus Lizard, Ghostface Killah,The New Year, Phoenix, 
Shellac, Joe Henry, Art Brut, A Certain Ratio, Liars, Squarepusher, Herman Dune, The Vaselines, Spectrum, Deerhunter, Sunn 
0))) performing "The Grimmrobe Demos", Black Lips, The Horrors, Andrew Bird, The Bad Plus, Jay Reatard, Gang Gang Dance, 
Kimya Dawson, Lightning Bolt, Magnolia Electric Co., Oneida, Th' Faith Healers, DJ /rupture, Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti, 
Jason Lytle from Grandaddy,The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Dj Yoda, El-P, Simian Mobile Disco, Michael Mayer, Dan 
Deacon Ensemble, Jeremy Jay, A-Trak, Rhythm & Sound (Mark Ernestus) feat. Tikiman, Jesu, The Mae Shi, Alela Diane, 
Shearwater, Kitty Daisy & Lewis, The Drones, Bat For Lashes, The Soft Pack, Damien Jurado, Fucked Up, Chad VanGaalen, 
The Bats, Tokyo Sex Destruction featuring Gregg Foreman, Crystal Stilts, Reigning Sound, Dalek, Marnie Stern, Dead 
Meadow, Vivian Girls, Ponytail, Ezra Furman & the Harpoons, Ebony Bones, Wooden Shjips, Crystal Antlers, The Bug, 
Bowerbirds, Joe Crepusculo y Los Destructores, Wavves, The Tallest Man On Earth, Tachenko, Agent Ribbons, Women, Uffie, 
John Maus, Magik Markers, The Extraordinaires, Stanley Brinks featuring Freschard & Ish Marquez, Angelo Spencer, Karl 
Blau, Plants & Animals, Extra Life, Mahjongg, Muletrain, Andy Votel, The Secret Society, Carsick Cars, Tim Burgess (The 
Charlatans), La Bien Querida, The Intelligence, Sleepy Sun, Maika Makovski, Half Foot Outside, Zombie Zombie, Veracruz, 
The Right Ons, Los Punsetes, Klaus & Kinski, The Lions Constellation, Duchess Says, Mujeres, Elvira, Lemonade, Girls, The 
Disciplines, Dj Mehdi, Skatebard, Extraperlo, King Automatic, Cuzo, Alondra Bentley, PAL,Sedai6s, Hola ATodo El Mundo, 
Brian Hunt, Rosvita, QA'A, Meneo, Oniric, Centella, Belmez, Wio Leokadio, Joan Colomo, El Gremio, Chris "The Judge" Arthur 
dj, Merienda Cena, Gudar, Daniel Devine (WaKS records), Dr. Kiko 

In collaboration with 


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ebsite for updates. 





JUNE 2009 

Loop returns to the heart 
of the city, this year 
stretched across the entire 
weekend and featuring live 
performances from: 


The Matthew 

Herbert Big Band 


Emiliana Torrini 


Fujiya & Miyagi 

Joakim & The Disco 


The Field 



The Invisible 

The Portico Quartet 



Mira Calix + Quayola 


The XX 


James Yuill 

We Have Band 

Hatcham Social 

Sian Alice Group 

The Qemists 


The Glimmers 

Many more acts to be announced 

Plus collaborations with 
onedotzero_ adventures 
in motion festival, 
presenting an explosive 
showcase of internationally 
curated moving image, 
featuring ground-breaking 
short film screenings, 
playful installations and 
spectacular live audiovisual 

*The Matthew Herbert 
Big Band will launch the 
festival with, LoopLoud, 
on Friday 10 th July at the 
Brighton Dome Concert 
Hall. Separate tickets are 
available for this event, 
priced £18.50 or as part of 
a festival bundle priced £65. 

New Music, New Ideas 
10 th — 12 th July 2009 
Victoria Gardens, 
Central Brighton 

2 day pass — £40 
With LoopLate — £50 

Saturday 11 th 

12:00 until 22:00 — £26.50 
With LoopLate — £35 
LoopLate only — £1 1 .50 

Sunday 12 th 

12:00 until 19:00 — £16.50 

All prices subject 
to booking fee 

Tickets on sale now at: 

and usual outlets. See website for more details. 

festival preview 

now booking: loop 

The Field interview: Jamie Kingett 

From Here We Go Sublime was such 
a huge success. With Yesterday 
And Today, have you felt under 
pressure to make an album that 
will be equally well received? 

" It was pretty hard to get going with 
new things. By playing live mostly all of 
last year, I didn't find any creativity to 
make anything new really." 

Is this new album the first time 
you've recorded as a band? How 
was it, having others to bounce 
ideas off? You've said that 
recording became like a jam 
session, with musicians coming 
and going... 

"Yeah, more like that style. It's the 
first time forThe Field to record with live 
musicians. We had a little house some 
friends own on a secluded island outside 
of Stockholm - an old school where 
we just hung out. People came and went 
for about a week. It was quite idyllic, the 
best way to record. I'd also done a lot of 
pre-production beforehand, so it all came 
back to me when I got into the mood." 

Has it given you the 
opportunity to work with more 
varied instrumentation? Do your 
songs still have a sample base? 

" It's still sample-based, but 
there's so much more varied 
instrumentation - everything from 
baritone guitar to steel pan." 

I've heard you use a program 
called Buzz that you've been 
using since you started making 
music. Are you still using that 
or have you succumbed to the 
more high-end software? 

" [Laughs] No, no, I'm still with 
the shitty stuff. You find your way with 
whatever is comfortable, you know? I've 
tried most of them, from Logic to Ableton 
and ProTools. It's what you're used to 
using, but of course the whole album 
is more or less recorded in Ableton." 

John Stanierfrom Battles 
plays on the track 'Yesterday And 
Today'. How did you get to know 
him, and what did he bring to 
the record? 

"I think we met for the first time 
in Brazil; we had a gig together and 
hung out the whole night. Then he was 
hanging out in Cologne this summer 
when we were playing a festival so 
we just thought, let's try some stuff out. 
And we did." 

On From Here We Go Sublime, 
you sampled a lot of big artists. 
Have you had to take license 
issues more into account for this 
record, given your higher profile? 

"Yes, some of them of course we 
had to clear. . .that Korgis one [a version 
of the UK band's Eighties hit 'Everybody's 
Got To Learn Sometime'] is a cover, more 
or less -it's so obvious!" 

You moved to Berlin last year. 
How has that been? It's got such 
a prominent techno scene - is that 
the reason you moved out there? 
Has it made easer to meet and 
work with artists? 

"No, I fell in love. It's as simple 
as that. I don't really go out to clubs 
or anything. I prefer home listening, 
it's more easy." 

The album was recorded 
back in Stockholm and was mixed 
in Cologne. Have each of those 
locations influenced the album 
in different ways? 

" I guess they have. Also, working 
with different people from different 
places adds a different touch to 
everything, and working with people 
you just know a little bit and people 
you inspires it all." 

Did you discover any music 
when you were recording the 
album? Did any of it lead you 
in new directions artistically? 

"No, not really- it was mostly the 
stuff I've been listening to for a long 
time, going backwards to stuff I've 
been listening to before. Rediscovering." 

Have you been playing the new 
material live? How have audiences 
been reacting to it? 

"We just had one show with it, 
in London. People seemed to like the new 
stuff, it was both old and new - there 
were even some people singing along 
which was quite funny." 

Is there anywhere on the 
planet The Field still hasn't played 
and that you'd really like to go to? 

"Japan. The vision of Tokyo. 
I want to see Tokyo and play for 
a Japanese crowd." 

The Field assume poise and precision 
for Brighton's Loop festival this summer, 
alongside Squarepusherjhe Mathew 
Herbert Big Band and The XX. 
Brighton Victoria Gardens 
(July 10-12) 

le weekend 

In which Stirling becomes a haven 
of distinguished artistry: Plan B is 
pleased to champion this event, acts 
including the ominous Carla Bozulich 
And Evangelista, Alex Neilson's earth- 
vibes project Trembling Bells, fabled 
audio masters Broadcast, Adrian Utley 
Drew Mulholland and a plethora 
of intriguing avant names. 
Stirling Tolbooth (May 29-3 1 ) 

af rica oye 

This, possibly the largest festival of African 
music in the UK, is utterly gratuit. We know 
you're expecting some kind of credit crunch 
joke here, but we can't really be bothered. 
Liverpool Sefton Park (June 20, 21) 

a hop day at the farm 

This bash takes things nicely back to basics: 
no sponsorship, branding or cordoned-off 
VIP areas. Details are still being finalised. 
Kent Hop Farm (July 3-5) 

all tomorrow's parties 

The Breeders curate, with a bill featuring 
old blood (the reformation of Throwing 
Muses, Shellac), new (Holy Fuck, Deerhunter, 
Foals). . .and the first ever UK performance 
from those grunge-era controversialists 
The Frogs. 

Minehead Butlins Holiday Camp 
(May 15-1 7) 

all tomorrow's parties: 
a nightmare before xmas 

Curated by My Bloody Valentine, with The 
Horrors, Sonic Youth, De La Soul and Sun 
Ra Arkestra doing the spooking. 
Minehead Butlins Holiday Camp 
(December 4-6) 

all tomorrow's parties 

VsThe Fans, Part ll:The Fans Strike Back. 
So far: Spiritualized, Devo, Future Of The 
Left, Young Marble Giants, Shearwater, 
and Sleep performing Holy Mountain. 
You? You want Beirut, Killing Joke and 
Harvey Milk. 

Minehead Butlins Holiday Camp 
(May 8-10) 


Annual pilgrimage for hedonistic young 
revelers where the music doesn't start 'til 
gone 9pm (it's, like, waaay too hot to even 
consider it before then). Urn, Oasis headline 
Thursday, Kings Of Leon Friday, Franz 
Ferdinand Saturday, The Killers Sunday. 
Benicassim Recinto De Conciertos 
(July 16-1 9) 


There's no festival, um, twee-er than 
Indietracks - it's held at a railway 
centre and showcases bands with 
names like The Smittens, Ray Rumours 
And The No-Eyed Deers and Help 
Stamp Out Loneliness (we're melting 
already). Full of up-and-comers, it's 
the sort of place to go to keep you ear 
to the (tweexcore) underground. More 
indie pop comes from Camera Obscura, 
BMX Bandits, Pocketbooks and Emmy 
The Great. 

Midland Railway Centre 
(July 24-26) 


A tiny festival with a big heart (and 
fanbase), Truck is 1 2 this summer and 
is celebrating with its annual farm- 
based indie love-in. Ash and Supergrass 
have been announced as headliners, 
with YACHT (in which Jona Bechtolt 
makes his only UK festival appearance), 
Pulled Apart By Horses, And So I Watch 
You From Afar and Errors bringing 
up the rear. 
Steventon Hill Farm (July 25-26) 


Kraftwerk have been in self-imposed 
exile from Britain since 2003, but Rob 
Da Bank's scruffy gent magnetism has 
charmed them into returning. They're 
joined by Fleet Foxes, Bat For Lashes 
and Massive Attack. 

Isle Of Wight Robin Hill Country Park 
(September 11-13) 

the big chill 

Long-established chillout festival 

in Herefordshire. Basement Jaxx, 

Calexico, Friendly Fires, Orbital and 

Pharoah Sanders. 

Eastnor Castle Deer Park (August 7-9) 

brighton fringe 

Treasure trove of cultural delights lasting 
the whole month. Open access arts, theatre, 
literature and film offerings. 
Brighton various venues (May 2-25) 

camp bestival 

PJ Harvey headlines. Other entertainments: 
Tinchy Stryder, Bon Iver, Mercury Rev and 
(yay!) Hugh Fea rn I ey- Wh itti ngsta 1 1 . 
Dorset Lulworth Castle (July 23-26) 

concrete and glass 

Last year's event across East London was 
a runaway success, spearheaded by TV 
On The Radio's takeover of Cargo. Expect 
a sell out. 
London various venues (DatesTBC) 

dot to dot 

City-bestraddling marathon with the likes 
ofAbeVigodaJhe Pains Of Being Pure 
At Heart, Patrick Wolf, The Big Pink, 
Little Boots, Future Of The Left, Crystal 
Antlers, and Crystal Stilts jogging back 
and forth. 

Bristol various venues (May 23), 
Nottingham various venues (24) 

end of the road 

Unassuming indie festival in Dorset's 
fine surrounds goes from strength to 
strength. Confirmed acts: Explosions 
lnTheSky,Alela Diane, Bob Log III, 
Charlie Parr, Efterklang, Howlin' Rain, 
The Low Anthem, Peter Broderick, 
Steve Earle, William ElliotWhitmore. 

stag and dagger 

Plan B are psyched, as it were, to take 
part in this year's Stag And Dagger, 
hosting our own bill with a delectable 
array of entertainments on show 
including the fuzz-bathed Blank 
Dogs, The Wave Pictures and Wet Dog. 
London various venues (May 21), 
Leeds various venues (22), Glasgow 
various venues (23) 

58 1 plan b 

the great escape 

Brighton's Great Escape is like the Camden Crawl's prettier little sister; you're by the 
sea, it's warm and there are (thankfully) fewer people. We're such antisocial beggars. 
You'll have to dodge seagulls shitting mid-air, but Micachu, Metronomy and many 
other bands not beginning with the letter 'm' (Esser, Ben Kweller, Future Of The Left, 
Passion Pit) are worth braving the flying faeces for. Plan Bare thrilled to be hosting 
our own line-up, too: get those glands salivating forThe Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, 
Vivian Girls and (drumroll please) . . . Mamie Stern ! 
Brighton various venues (May 14-16) 

Dorset LarmerTree Gardens 
(September 11-13) 


John Zorn,AethenorandThe Anti-Group 
play alongside the reformed English 
progressive folk band Comus - often cited 
by the likes of Joanna Newsom,Opeth and 
Devendra Banhart as an influence - at 
this mystikal three day cross-cultural event 
which takes in 1 5 bands and 1 films, 
debates and panels from an assortment 
of academic theorists, historians and authors 
and an exploration of spirituality within a 
modern artistic context. 
London Camden Centre and Conway 
Hall (June 12-14) 


Comes with a crowd-pleasing line-up: 
Friendly Fires, The Wombats, Dizzee 
Rascal, Nouvelle Vague, James Yuill 
and Fan Death. 15 smackers for N 
the weekend. 

Gateshead Spillers Wharf and Baltic 
Square (May 24-25) 


You might have to go all the way to Serbia, 
but you get to shake your booty inside a 
FORTRESS. Line-up unconfirmed. 
Serbia Novi Sad (July 9-1 2) 


Unifying music, digital culture and 
modern thought through performances, 
exhibitions and seminars, Futuresonic 
is now something of a Mancunian 
institution.This year sees Philip Glass, 
Hudson MohawkeJoddlaT, SoapAnd 
Skin, Murcof, Anti-Pop Consortium 
and more. 

Manchester various venues 
(May 13-16) 


A new site means evolution for Glade, 
which they're rather chuffed about. And so 
are we: Squarepusher, Booka Shade, Femi 
Kuti, Venetian Snares and Underworld keep 
the tempo up. 
Winchester secret venue (July 1 6-1 9) 

short circuit 

Well-informed celebration of electronic 
explorers and originators. Holger 

commands a whole day (hopefully 
still sporting majestic handlebar 'tash), 
Barcelona's Sonar festival takes up 
residence to present Jeff Mills and 
Erol Elkan, Mary Anne Hobbs backs 
contemporary bass and Touch represent 
the neo-classical experimentation of 
Philip Jeck and Gavin Bryars. There's 
even a whole day dedicated to the BBC 
Radiophonic Workshop. 
London Roundhouse (May 14-1 7) 


After all the hoo-ha over Jay-Z's appearance 

last year subsided, the Eavis clan got round 

to booking Blur, Bruce Springsteen and 


Somerset Worthy Farm (June 24-28) 

heineken open'er 

Can't afford the escalating prices of 
domestic festivals? Lost your patience 
with infamous British precipitation? 
Then head to Eastern Europe, where 
all the acts you'd see anyway are playing 
for a fraction of the price. Confirmed: 
Basement Jaxx, Buraka Som Sistema, 
Crystal Castles. 
Poland Babie Doly Airfield (July 2-5) 

hove festivalen 

Midnight performances in exclusive 
ampitheatres deep in lush woodland. 
By the sea. Yum. International and 
Norwegian acts mingle. 
Norway Tromoya Arendal (June 22-25) 

island 50 

It's 50 years since Island Records' 
conception. The likes of PJ Harvey and 
Portishead team up with label founder 
Chris Blackwell to sprout archival films, 
documentaries, artwork and live music. 
London Shepherd's Bush Empire 
(May 26-31) 


Raising money for Oxford Rape Crisis, 
Ladyfest Oxford presents and celebrates 
the accomplishments of women in the 
local community. Performances, workshops 
and talks will be punctuated by bands, yet 
to be announced. 
Oxford various venues (May 1 8-24) 

la route du rock 

Set in the decaying ramparts of an old Saint- 
Malo castle, La Route Du Rock provides 
Archie Bronson Outfit, John And Jehn and 
Jeremy Jay. 

France Saint-Malo Fort De Saint-Pere 
(August 20-22) 


Grace Jones, Nick Cave AndThe Bad 
Seeds and the Pet Shop Boys, headline 
Suffolk's sprawling event.The Film 
and Music Arena will segue sultrily into 
the night with DJs from Belle And Sebastian 

Suffolk Southwold Henham Park 
(July 16-1 9) 

green man 

Animal Collective, Grizzly Bear, Wilco, 
Bon Iver and Wooden Shjips take refuge 
in the Brecon Beacons' leafy haven for 
a drowsy, dreamy weekend far from 
daily life's travails. . 
Wales Glanusk Park (August 21-23) 

now booking: field day 

Malcolm Middleton interview: 
Lauren Strain 

Hello Malcolm. You recently 
wrote a message to your fans 
and the press noting, among other 
things, that you would be having 
a bit of a break from making music 
as Malcolm Middleton after the 
release of your next album. Waxing 
Gibbous. In it, you say you didn't 
really enjoy making this record. 
Why so? 

"I'm really happy with the result 
now. There's nothing worse than asking a 
musician about music. I think it's because 
I'm aware of everything that's gone into 
the songs that made me not enjoy the 
outcome at first, because there were 
no producer's surprises, etc. I guess I've 
been confused since I finished recording, 
and, like I said, all this combined with 
doing five solo albums in seven years 
means the novelty has worn off a little. 
I still think what I'm doing is honest; 
it just isn't fresh anymore. My life needs 
a cup of tea!" 

Don't you think artists are 
bound to always feel like they're 
never satisfied? 

"The reason people continue 
to make art or music or any form of 
expression is because they themselves 
'continue'. It's not about being 
unsatisfied, probably just a lack of 
need to stand and inspect what you've 
just done. There is no end point. Even 
if I'd just written the Best Song Ever 
(TM), a few moments pass and then 
the satisfaction is gone." 

If we were to listen to only 
a couple of songs from the new 
record and take them as some 
kind of statement about you, 
which would they be? 

"Musically, I love 'Box And Knife' 
the most. Lyrically, 'Zero', because it 
is ridiculous and all over the place but 
still creates a nice mood. 'Made Up Your 
Mind' I like because rather than giving 

much as I can!' I thought I'd just record it 
the day after it was written and cement it 
in stone before I got all anal on its ass." 

You've said that you're "pissed 
off that I don't fit in anywhere" in 
terms of musical scenes. But that's 
a good thing -right? 

"I suppose, but I'd still like to belong 
somewhere. I mean, I don't want to have 
the pressure of charts or success, or 

doing shite TV shows and hanging about 
with idiots. But I confuse myself, I think 
I should just do an acoustic album and try 
to fit in with the folkies, or go completely 
pop and be cool, or. . .fucking hell, who 
cares, I'm rambling." 

Do you regret anything you put 
into your last records? 

" I regret some of the sentiments 
I've expressed, I suppose. Being too 
down on myself, looking a bit pathetic. 
I'm fine with it, though, because I've met 
the people now who've laughed along 
with me and felt the same. I don't really 
think I'd be proud to let my grandchildren 
hear any of my songs though, and that's 
not good." 

You say you feel that "Malcolm 
Middleton has said enough". Do 
you think a lot of artists ought to 
be more aware when to shut up? 

"Yes, too many artists continue for 
too long. I'm just after a new experience. 
I'm looking forward to touring my new 
album but I want to do it as a band, 
not as a singer-songwriter idiot with 
a bunch of people behind me trying to 
mimic a record. I think you can tell when 
people are just making music for the sake 
of it; the ears don't lie." 

What will you miss about 
'being' Malcolm Middleton? 

"Jesus, it's like reading my own 
obituary. I will miss the discomfort 
of being on stage and presenting my 

I'll be writing songs until I die, but right 
now I've got nothing else to say. I think 
it'll do me good, and I hope some people 
will appreciate that." 

What will you go and do in 
the meantime? 

"I'm having lots of ideas. Most 
of them involve shutting up for a bit. 
I've started to work on an instrumental 
acoustic album, as well as an electronic 
album. I'd also like to produce 
someone, write a musical, become 
a better guitarist, lose some weight, 
grow my hair back, be nicer to people, 
do some charity work, fix the tap in 
the bathroom and start smoking 
again. The usual." 

Malcolm Middleton joins FourTet, 
Errors, Toumani Diabate, Mogwai, 
Final Fantasy, Little Boots and many 
others at this year's Bank Holiday 
love-in for Londoners, also known 
as Field Day. 

London Victoria Park (August 1) 

plan b | 59 

festival preview 

now booking: 

Nancy Wallace interview: 
Jamie Kingettand Lauren 

Supersonic famously 
favours the extreme 
and abrasive. How do 
you feel about sharing 
a bill with the likes of 
Venetian Snares, Scorn 
and Iron Lung? 

"I think it'sgreat. I love the 
fact that Supersonic has such 
a broad spectrum, and will find 
a place for someone like me 
among, well, lots of artists that 
arenotatalllikeme! I had an amazing 
time last year when I played with The 
Owl Service, and discovered some great 
music - hopefully this year will be more 
of the same. I'm not sure there's much 
of a common thread in terms of sound, 
but certainly in terms of spirit I hope. " 

What inspired you to recently 
record an EP covering Candi 
Staton, Barry White and Chic ? 

"The idea was actually put to me 
by my friend Daryl Easlea, who had 
written a book about Chic and asked 
me to play at the launch party. It would 
have been impossible to do all Chic 
numbers (all grooves, not enough chord 
changes), so I trawled around the disco 
classics and came up with the songs that 
ended up on the EP. I'm not really sure 
there are a great many reference points 
shared between folk and disco, but a 
great song is a great song, isn't it? It 
should transcend genres and I think 
these do." 

What other factors, musical or 
otherwise, have inspired and 
influenced your work? 

"My writing is very personal, but 
by that I don't mean that it's all about 
me - more that I am interested in people, 
the way they think, the way they relate 
to each other. I love trying to figure 
out why people do the things they do. 
Perhaps I'm more observational than 
confessional. Although, like anyone, 
I'm inspired to write by what I'm feeling 
at any given time." 

What can we expect from your 
project with The Owl Service's 
Jason Steel? 

"We're hoping to put an EP together 
soon, followed by an album when time 
allows. We're great friends and he's 
a wonderful musician so it's a joy 
whenever we play or write together." 

Are there any other musicians 
you'd like to work with? Do you 
find it easy to collaborate? 

"I'm open to working with anyone 
who has interesting ideas. It's a different 
process to working alone, but I don't 
necessarily find one way easier than 
the other, just different.The immediate 
feedback you get with collaboration 
is very rewarding. It's too easy 
to sit alone at your computer for days 
on end, fussing over minor details, 
whereas working with someone 
else can give you a clearer sense 
of perspective." 

Tell us a little bit about your 
musical background... 

in a musical household; my mother was 
a wonderful guitarist who taught me 
from an early age. They had me out 
performing from the word go -the 
folk coalmines! Music always helps in 

will tell you that the act of making music 
is an essential part of getting through the 
day. I wouldn't say I use music as therapy 
but if I'm not playing I'm not happy." 

What are you working on at 
the moment; do you have new 
songs brewing? Can you tell us 
a little bit about what the future 
may hold for you? 

"I'm writing some new songs, 
yes - hopefully another album in the 
pipeline before too long. Plus The Owl 
Service and the project with Jason. 
That's the future for the time being! " 

What are you listening 
to, reading and watching at 
the moment? 

"Today I've got Piratesby Rickie Lee 
Jones on the go. Looking at my 
page, I see that my most played artists 
at the moment are Shirley and Dolly 
Collins, Nic Jones, Dave Evans (a great 
tip from Steven Collins) and Micah Blue 
Smaldone (likewise, a top tip from Jason). 
I've been a bit slack on the film front 
lately, although the Anvil f\\m was 
completely wonderful. I'm currently 
reading Oscar And Lucindaby Peter 
Carey- a masterpiece of writing." 

Aside from music, what other 
art do you make, if any? Do you 
feel that you best express yourself 
through your music, or do you 
work through other art forms too? 

"I'm probably more crafty than arty. 
I love making things when I have the 

last thing I actually managed was some 
Christmas cards. I'd say music was my 
primary expressive outlet. Mind you, 
I did find digging up all the weeds in 
the garden yesterday to be an almost 
spiritual experience!" 

Nancy Wallace joins Goblinjhorr's 
Hammer, Jarboe, Growing, Zu, Earthless, 
the Flower/Corsano Duo and many more 
on the bill for Supersonic, a yearly festival 
put together by the canny people at 
Capsule that redraws the boundaries of 
sonics (and tinnitus). Expect songs from 
her exquisite recent album, Old Stories. 
Birmingham Custard Factory 
(July 24-26) 

liverpool sound city 

Four nights of signed/unsigned action 

across the city. Deerhunter, Little Boots 

and CageThe Elephant confirmed 

so far. 

Liverpool various venues (May 20-23) 

lounge on the farm 

Mr Scruff, Gong, Wild Beasts, The Wave 
Pictures and Peggy Sue are pencilled in. 
Kent Canterbury Merton Farm (July 

lovebox weekender 

Convene in central London for a weekend 
of music from Duran Duran, Groove Armada, 
Florence And The Machine, Ladyhawke, 
Doves, NERD, Friendly Fires, Gang Of Four, 
Noah AndTheWhale, Dan Black, VV Brown, 
and many more.. 
London Victoria Park (July 18-19) 


Ferropolis is a museum city, literally. Aformer 
city of ironworks, all industrial remnants 
are still scattered around, providing 
a unique backdrop to this festival. 
Klaxons, Caribou, The Gossip, Ellen Allien. 
Berlin Ferropolis (July 1 7-1 9) 


Curator of this year's bash has been 
announced as legendary jazz musician 
Ornette Coleman. The full line-upforthe 
nine day festival has yet to be announced 
but will include two special concerts by 
Coleman himself, inspired by his 1 959 
release The Shape of Jazz to Come and 
the 1961 release This Is Our Music. 
"I hope this festival will leave us with 
a lot of love for all mankind. We will use 
this time to gather together and create 
things that we love and believe in," 
says Coleman. And who can argue 
with that? 
London Southbank Centre (June 12-21) 


Norway's biggest outdoor festival 
sees the likes of Grizzly Bear, Gang 
Gang Dance, Wilco, Datarock, Lily Allen, 
Bon Iver and Band Of Horses take the 
reins; add to that a more-than-healthy 
helping of Norwegian acts and a green 
attitude and you've got aTHUMBS 
UP from us. 
Oslo Medieval Park (August 11-15) 


English drone ensembleVibracathedral 
Orchestra create unnerving 'scapes 
alongside Herb Diamante, John Clyde-Evans, 
Group Doueh and one of our 'Next Wave 
2009' groups of choice, Part Wild Horses 
Mane On Both Sides. Best of all; Palimpsest 
happens in the beautiful surroundings of a 
church in the historic town of Cambridge. 
Cambridge All Saints Church (May 30) 


Hosting Karl Blau, Kimya Dawson, Stanley 
Brinks, AphexTwin, Wooden Shjips, Vivian 
Girls and one million other brilliant things. 
Remember; aftersun is no good on its 
own. Factor 25, dears. 
Barcelona Pare Del Forum (May 28-30) 

secret garden party 

A four day love-in somewhere in the 
east, with Jarvis Cocker, Slagmalsklubben, 

Phoenix, Caspa, The XX, Golden Silvers, 
Fight Like Apes, Daedelus, King Cannibal, 
andWe Have Band. 
East Anglia secret venue (July 26-29) 


All things delectably dancefloor. Grace 
Jones, Late Of The Pier, Orbital, Crystal 
Castles, Konono No. 1 , Micachu and the 
Ed Banger crew all represent. 
Barcelona various venues (June 1 8-20) 

south west four 

Bank holiday weekend knees-up in Sarf 

London. A raver's paradise. 

London Clapham Common (August 29) 

summer sundae 

Boutique festival with Bon Iver, Beardyman, 
OiVaVoi, Imelda May andTeitur. 
Leicester De Montfort Hall (August 


London's pioneering under-1 8s only 
event lines up entertainment including 
PatrickWolf, Santigoldjhe Horrors, 
Caspa, Marina AndThe Diamonds, 
Esser, Hadouken!, RoloTomassi 
and Metronomy. 
London Victoria Park (August 2) 


Family-oriented sister festival of Truck, 
with Spiers And Boden, Meic Stevens, 
Po' Girl and Jim Moray providing 
musical entertainments. There are 
lots of opprtunities to get involved 
in crafts and workshops. Wood prides 
itself on its green-friendly outlook; the 
showers are operated by wood-burning 
stoves, the stage is solar-powered 
and all food is organically produced 
and locally sourced. Children under 
14 go free. 
Oxfordshire Braziers Park (May 15-17) 


Family-friendly, pop-folk tinged weekend 
with no horses left on the course (hopefully) 
for headliners Super Furry Animals and 
Supergrass. Also on the billJheWonder 
Stuff, The Mummers, The Beat, and an 
upcoming stage curated by BBC 6Music's 
Tom Robinson. 
Cheltenham Racecourse (May 29-31) 


A countryside boutique festival for the 
Peak District. Line up announcements 
are imminent. 

Derbyshire venue TBC (July 31 - 
August 2) 


ZXZW is a parody of the annual 
SXSW industry cockfest, and is infinitely 
more inspiring. Free jazz rests its head 
comfortably in the lap of slowcore; 
dubstep floats around and pop prunes 
itself in a corner. You get the picture; 
it's a genreless celebration of all things 
adventurous and daring. Acts confirmed 
this year include: Brat Pack, The Devil's 
Horns, The Caretaker, Mugstar, Brethren 
OfThe Free Spirit, Aufgehoben, Der 
Blutharsch,Youves, Altar Of Plagues, 
and many more. 

Netherlands Tilburg (September 

60 1 plan b 


r t Beit Festival, Indy Awards 2008 VJ 



25th - 26th JULY 

Hill Farm, Steve nton, Oxfordshire 

\ v 

Tickets £70 on sale now 




GARY LOURIS and MARK OLSON (The Jayhawks) 




and 100 more great acts to be announced on 6 stages,,, Rough Trade East and local shops 

TRUCK is an independent, family* run festival founded in 1993. 
T t^^^ T^F TTVT '"'^ c local Rotary Ctub provide the food and the vicar sells ice-cream. 

u£/ M. J. J. IXH In 2008 truckers helped raise over £50,000 for charities and good causes. 

now booking: 

Interview: Lauren Strain 

To Willie- a collection of covers 
of Willie Nelson songs - has been 
received very warmly. Have you 
been surprised at its success? 
It's such a specific thing to do, yet 
it seems to have had such wide 
appeal . . .why do you think that is? 

"Yes, it's been a real pleasure to see 
how well the album has been received. 
'Surprised' wouldn't really be the word, 
though -they are undeniably brilliant 
songs. I'm probably more surprised 
to learn that people didn't know a lot 
of these songs until now." 

Did you feel you learned more 
about Willie Nelson's viewpoints 
and thoughts the more time you 
spent with those songs? I imagine 
it must be quite an intimate and 
strange experience to work with 
somebody else's songs in such 
a close way. Was it ever difficult 
for you to engage with them, 
knowing that they weren't yours? 

"No, that part wasn't difficult at all. 
I've spent my whole life with these songs 
and they've probably informed my own 
aesthetic as much as anything. So it felt 
really natural to just record them as 
if they were Phosphorescent songs. " 

I hear you've moved to 
Brooklyn now, from Athens. How 
is the musical community there? 

"Brooklyn is a great place to live and 
work as a musician - a very supportive 
scene with lots of people who live for 
their art and for art in general. But 
honestly, for Phosphorescent I tend 
to work in a pretty isolated manner. 
The writing and recording and everything 
like that generally happens in the studio, 
so it's a pretty removed environment, 
and then it only gets released out into 
the world after the fact." 

You've been performing with 
a full band a lot recently. Does 
this change your perspective on 
travelling and touring? Do you 
prefer to share what you do with 
others, or prefer to travel alone? 

"At this point I definitely enjoy 
travelling with everybody more than 
going it solo. When you're playing solo 
shows it frees you up total ly to have 
a radically different show every night, 
so that was always nice. But the 
current line-up is a bunch of really great 
musicians who are open to improvisinq 

and re-working songs on the fly, 
so we are still able to mix it up and 
keep it interesting." 

Have you found yourself 
writing with members of your 
band, as a result of spending 
so much time together? 

"Writing is still very much a personal, 
internal process for me, but I have been 
bringing the latest batch of songs out 
to everybody before they are completely 
finished and it feels good to hear them 
with the band in their rough shapes." 

You recently recorded ol' 
traditional 'Swanee River' for 
a Splice compilation; what drew 
you to that song? 

"The folks from Splice asked 
Phosphorescent for a song to include 
in their compilation of songs that are 
in the public domain. In the US, that 
means songs that wer 
1923,'Swanee River ("me uioi-oiks 
At Home)' met that criteria and that sad 
old song has always sounded real pretty 
to me - along with many other Stephen 
Foster songs - so that was the one 
I decided to do. Four of us set up some 
amps in our studio in Brooklyn and 
we recorded it one night, live, and 
on the first take." 

What other old traditionals tug 
at your heartstrings? 

"Oh man, so many of those songs are 
so perfect I couldn't even start picking 
out favourites. I'm certainly not a scholar 
of traditional folk songs or anything like 
that, so pretty much any time I dig into 
that world I always find something that's 
new and exciting to me." 

What have you been working 
on since To Willie! 

"We're currently into the recording 
of the next Phosphorescent album. 
I'm recording it in the same studio space 
where we recorded To Willieand all 
of the same musicians are involved. 
There's not a whole lot I can say to 
describe it, other than to say that it's 
some of the best stuff any of us have ever 
done. I'm ridiculously proud of it so far." 
(Matthew Houck) 

Phosphorescent and his touring 
bandmates bring their homely hoe- 
downs to the UK this spring. 
Brighton Engine Rooms (May 27), 
London Jazz Cafe (28), Cardiff Clwb 
Ifor Bach (29), Manchester The Deaf 
Institute (30), Glasgow Captain's 
Rest (31), Dublin Whelan's (June 1), 
CorkThe Pavilion (2) 


The dance-pop trio will perform 
their 1991 debutalbum, 
Foxbase Alpha, in full at each 
of these shows. While their 
recent 'best of, London 
Conversations, has made them 
something of thethrowback- 
band-du-jour, Plan B insist that 
it's not nostalgia; it's where 
your heart belongs. 
Glasgow ABC (May 1 3), Sheffield 
Leadmill (14), London Bloomsbury 
Ballroom (15, 16) 

ariel pink 

Unpredictable scamp brings severely 
acid-fried lo-fi pop to Kilburn. Support 
from Prurient and Cold Cave. 
London Luminaire (May 20) 

andrew bird 

Whimsical multi-instrumentalist brings latest 
album Noble BeastXo the stage. 
Bristol Thekla (May 10), London 
Shepherd's Bush Empire (11), 
Manchester Academy 2 (1 3), Glasgow 


Part gospel choir, part percussion maestros, 
Cryptacize's new album Mythomania is 
a robust concoction of miscellany. 
Brighton Freebutt (May 24), London 
Cargo (25), London Windmill (26), 
Exeter Cavern (27), London Union 
Chapel (28), Dublin Whelan's (29), 
Glasgow Captain's Rest (30), 
Edinburgh Sneaky Pete's (31), 
Manchester The Deaf Institute (June 1), 
Cardiff Buffalo Bar (2) 

crystal antlers 

The popular prefix continues to sparkle, 
for this Californian six-piece, at least. 
Cardiff Tommy's Bar (May 1 7), 
Edinburgh Sneaky Pete's (18), Glasgow 
Stereo (19), Norwich Arts Centre (20), 
London Hoxton Bar and Kitchen (25) 

das wanderlust 

Splinter-sharp but cutesy indie-pop. 
Middlesbrough Dr Brown's (May 13), 
London Luminaire (23) 

dan deacon and the wham city 

Fluoro synth-pop from Baltimore's family 
king, this time with full band in tow. 
Manchester Club Academy (June 2), 
Dublin Andrews Place (3), London ULU 
(June 5) 


Georgian five-piece Deerhunter, who've kept 
a re/af/Ve/yhemmed-in profile since their 

plan b presents 

Your trusty events department - 
a one-man gig machine by the 
name of Ben Webster - has 
been hard at work preparing 
bills for the Great Escape and 
Stag and Dagger festivals, but 
is proud to present another gig 
from joyous multi-instrumental 
collective The Spolkestra, with 
support from Bishop Allen. 
Reading Oakford Social Club 
(May 9) 

formation back in 2001 , finally making it big. 
Hazy, thrashy, passionate indie-rock. 
Minehead Butlins Holiday Camp (May 
16), London Scala (18), Manchester The 
Deaf Institute (1 9), Glasgow Stereo 
(20), Belfast Black Box (21), Dublin 
Whelan's (22), Leeds Brudenell Social 
Club (24), Brighton Audio (25) 


Va-nil-la. Straw-ber-ry. Kni-cker-bo-cker 


Cork Cyprus Avenue (June 1 8), Galway 

Roisin Dubh (19), Dublin Tripod (20) 

future of the left 

Defiant rockers keep on trudgin'. 
Butlins Minehead (May 8), Portsmouth 
Wedgewood Rooms (13) Brighton 
Sallis Benney Theatre (14), Belfast 
Stiff Kitten (16), Dublin Academy 2 
(1 7), Glasgow Stereo (1 8), Hereford 
Jailhouse (20), Manchester Academy 3 
(21), Bristol Dot to Dot Festival (23), 
Nottingham Dot to Dot Festival (24), 
Cardiff Clwb Ifor Bach (25), London 
ULU (26) 


Volker Bertelmann trusses his piano up with 
calipers and string and a million things. 
London Union Chapel (May 27) 

kristin hersh 

The Throwing Muses chanteuse tours solo. 
Glasgow KingTut's (May 18), Aberdeen 
Lemon Tree (19), York Duchess (22), 
Lancaster Music Library (23), Burnley 
Library (24), Portsmouth Wedgewood 
Rooms (28) 

the jesus lizard 

Veteran campaigners play a few dates for old 
times' sake. 

Butlins Minehead (May 8-10), London 
Forum (11) 

junior boys 

Sparse, electronic pop. 
London The Arches (June 5), Dublin 
Academy (7), Manchester Club 
Academy (9) 

antony and the Johnsons 

This is Antony Hegarty's first full tour of the UK since 2005 (minus his 
pre-Christmas shows with the LSO at the Barbican last year), and it 
promises to yield dark powers: new album, The Crying Light, is a jet 
and opal opus; "The embodiment of nature is perpetual," wrote Petra 
Davis in Plan B #40, "the barrier between the self and the world is 
dismantled. Limbs become water, leaves become eyes, sunlight 
becomes crystalline". 

Brighton Dome (May 21), Birmingham Symphony Hall (22), Bristol Colston Hall 
(23), London Hammersmith Apollo (27), Gateshead The Sage (29), Belfast 
Waterfront (June 1), Edinburgh Playhouse (4) 

62 | plan b 

live preview 

sublime frequencies 

All herald the first Sublime 
Frequencies tour, featuring two 
of the label/collective's fixtures, 
Group Doueh -from Western 
Sahara -and OmarSouleyman 
of Syria plus, on most dates, 
Sublime Frequencies DJs,film 
screenings and talks. 
Brighton St George's Church (May 
20), Birmingham Hare And Hounds 
(21), Glasgow Stereo (22), 
Newcastle Star And Shadow (23), 
Bristol Fiddlers (24), Falmouth Miss 
Peapod's (25), Manchester Mint 
Lounge (27), Norwich Arts Centre 
(28), London Tufnell Park Dome (29), 
Cambridge All Saints Church/ 
Palimpsest Festival (30) 


Joseph et al arrange a regional tour around 
their multitudinous festival dates. 
Norwich Waterfront (May 26), 
Brighton Concorde (27), Birmingham 
Academy 2 (28), Newcastle Academy 2 
(30), Manchester Club Academy (3 1 ), 
Nottingham Trent University (June 1), 
Glasgow KingTut's (2), London Forum 
(September 18) 


LA punk grrrls get out of The Smell and back 

over here. 

London Luminaire (May 13) 

m ward 

The oatmeal-and-honey-voiced troubadour. 
London Shepherd's Bush Empire 
(June 30) 

of montreal 

Kevin Barnes and his rambunctious collective 
of ninjas, clowns and serfs. 
London Shepherds Bush Empire 
(July 14) 

pink mountaintops 

Jagjaguwar scuzz-rockers have a new album, 
Outside Love, tucked up their sleeve. 
Brighton Freebutt (May 7), London 
Borderline (11) 

pit er pat 

New LP High Time is deliciously, full of 
baffling shuffles and astrological yelps. 
Ramsgate Belgian Cafe (May 10), 
London The Lexington (1 2), 
Manchester Tiger Lounge (13), 
Glasgow Stereo (17) 

pulled apart by horses 

Hotly-tipped art-punk. 
Oxford Academy (May 4), Portsmouth 
Wedgewood Rooms (13), Brighton 
Great Escape Festival (14) Belfast Stiff 
Kitten (1 6), Dublin Academy 2 (1 7), 
Glasgow Stereo (1 8), Hereford 
Jailhouse (20), Manchester Academy 3 
(21), Liverpool Korova (22), Cardiff 
Clwb Ifor Bach (25), London ULU (26) 

rolo tomassi 

Enormo-tour from yr favourite screamos. 
Oxford Academy 3 (May 4), Newcastle 
Academy (9), Norwich UEA (1 3), 
Birmingham Academy (1 6), 
Portsmouth Pyramid Centre (19), 
Cheltenham 2000 Trees Festival (July 

a hawk and a hacksaw 

Globetrotting couple Jeremy 
Barnes and Heather Trost tour 
new album Delivrance, a fiery 
whirligig of experiences gained 
in Budapest played out on 
bouzouki, violin, accordian and 
anything they could lay their 
hands on. 

Leeds West Yorkshire Playhouse 
(May 2), Brighton Duke Of York's 
Picturehouse (June 16), Bristol 
Fiddlers (17), London Cecil Sharp 
House (1 8), Gateshead Baltic (1 9), 
Stirling Tollbooth (20), GlasgowThe 
Arches (21), Birmingham Hare And 
Hounds (23), Oxford Holywell Music 
Room (24), Norwich Arts Centre 

19), London Victoria Park Underage 
Festival (August 2) 


Jonathan Meiburg's elegiac group make your 
heart swoon with renditions from Rook. 
London The Forum (May 8), Butlins 
Minehead (1 0), Falmouth The Poly (1 1 ), 
London Union Chapel (1 2) 

speech debelle 

Big Dada's fresh faced female rapper. 
London Roundhouse Festival (May 10), 
London Hoxton Square Bar And 
Kitchen (21), London Madame Jojos 

jamie Stewart 

XiuXiubrainiac goes it alone. 
Brighton Freebutt (May 24), London 
Cargo (25) 


Brooklyn duo promote their Dave Sitek- 
produced debut Dance Mother. 
London 93 Feet East (May 11), Norwich 
Arts Centre (1 2), Sheffield Harley (1 3), 
London ULU (14), Birmingham 
Rainbow (1 5), Nottingham Bodega 
Social Club (1 7), Dublin Academy 2 
(19), Manchester The Deaf Institute 
(20), Liverpool Sound City (21), Leeds 
Stag And Dagger Festival (22) 

times new viking 

Purveyors of scuzzy American noise-punk. 
London Luminaire (May 13), Brighton 
Pavilion Theatre (15), Manchester 
Futuresonic Festival (16), Nottingham 
Bodega (1 7), Edinburgh Sneaky Pete's 
(18), Glasgow Stereo (19), Leeds TJs 

two fingers 

Amon Tobin, Doubleclick and Sway 
combined to create innovative hip-hop. 
London Scala (May 13) 

vivian girls 

Scuzzy, stroppy pop songs razored through 
graters, backward. 

Brighton Great Escape Festival (1 5), 
London Brixton Windmill (17), London 
93 Feet East (1 8), Birmingham Dragon 
Bar (19), Manchester Ruby Lounge 
(20), Glasgow Stereo (21), Leeds Stag 
and Dagger Festival (22), Nottingham 
Dot to Dot Festival (23), Bristol Dot to 
Dot Festival (24) 

now booking: a ritual 
for elephant and castle 

I first came across your work 
when I stumbled on your film 
Journey To The Lower World 
playing in a gallery a year or 
so back. In it, you don an animal 
skin and perform a shamanic 
ritual for the residents of a 
Liverpool tower block scheduled 
for demolition. It's both funny 
and oddly affecting, and the 
audience of the ritual, who at first 
seem baffled by the piece, seem 
to get a genuine sense of closure 
by the end. When did you begin 
these sorts of performances, 
and what are your aims? 

"The first ritual I conducted was 
the film with the residents in Liverpool, 
the film you saw. That was 2004. 1 went 
on a weekend course in Notting Hill Gate 
in London, and from then on I have 
developed my own rituals based on 
traditional shaman procedures and 
my own knowledge of British wildlife. 
My aim is not to become a shaman, but 
to test the role of the imagination and 
non-rational processes as an effective 
tool in society to gain insight into 
modern day problems." 

In June you're performing 
with Chrome Hoof and Wildbirds 
And Peacedrums at the Coronet 
Theatre in Elephant And Castle. 
What has prompted the ritual? 

"Together with art collective Nomad 
and more recently with Chrome Hoof, we 
have been spending time in the Elephant 
And Castle area meeting people and 
discussing changes taking place with 
regards the redevelopment programme. 
Flats are being demolished to make way 
for new housing, offices and transport 
infrastructure. It's a huge development 
that, it is said, has the support of the 
majority of local people." 

Some would say that the idea 
of a shamanic ritual, with its roots 
in a very different culture, is 
largely divorced from the social 
problems affecting a district like 
Southwark. Why do you feel that 
a performance so alien to its 
surroundings can have relevance? 

"The dangerous visionary journeys, 
the costumes, the songs and chants, the 
belief in spirit worlds - they don't exist 
in our society. But other non-religious 

beliefs do exist and the shaman today 
would surely employ anything that 
we invest power in - entertainment, 
celebrity, money, and fashion. These 
modern-day cults have a deep root 
in our cultural psyche and these are 
some of the elements I use within 
a performance to hold its relevance. 
I also think the non-rational and 
anachronistic nature of the performance 
taps into a growing need in society 
for the need to believe in something 
that isn't necessarily explainable. 
"The role of the shaman is to 
work for the community, to help with 
intractable problems, to help map out 
what the future miqht hold, and also 

between so many separate bodies with 
differing vested interests -the council, 
health services, the police, the law courts, 

businesses. This project is not a substitute 
or alternative to these, but aims to open 
up and ignite a collective imagination 
by presenting music, performance and 
entertainment as a functional process 
for a community." 

Tell me about your links 
with Chrome Hoof and Wildbirds 
And Peacedrums - did you know 
them from previously? What 
attracts you to their music? 

" I have been aware of Chrome 
Hoof for a while and have been 
impressed with their force, musically 
but also as a performing ensemble. 
Their sound is raw and otherworldly 
but also tight and beautiful. Working 
with groups of musicians and showmen/ 
women like Chrome Hoof and Wildbirds 
And Peacedrums, who create a powerful 
and intoxicating fervor amongst 
their audiences, allows the opportunity 
to directly address some of the local 
issues within a transformative 
and imaginative context. The 
performance offers a public way 
of making sense of these changes 
through a familiar and powerful 
cultural context." 

A Ritual For Elephant And Castle is 
a multi-dimensional live musical 
performance ritual inspired by the 
current changes taking place in the 
London neighbourhood of Elephant 
And Castle. Artist-cum-shaman Marcus 

Wildbirds And Peacedrums, and a 

20-piece drum circle. 

London CoronetTheatre (June 5) 

plan b|63 

111 K? 


j ■ 

A II 11 

1 vi\ \ Vi/ 


jitir feajfl? 


f#^A r N§ 

home, soon enough 

Words: Meryl Trussler 
Illustration: Duncan Barrett 

Patrick Wolf 

The Bachelor (Bloody Chamber Music) 

I - oh, bother, I'm sorry, I broke the fourth wall 
again. I broke it to tell you that I broke Patrick Wolf's 
fourth wall too, and he can sing about hymens 
on this album as much as he likes without my 
last clause being an innuendo. Thing is, I was 1 7. 
I was in a chapel, an art gallery, the Astoria, staring 
at a pallid blur with a glittering smudge of any- 
coloured hair. I was in horrid teenage love with 
the music, then him, then the people I met through 
him and danced beside; then, with one straggler 
fan from a faraway place who, I realised, all those 
love songs were kind of about. And the crunches 
and windswept lullabies, they were always there. 
This might relate - to you, or whoever - were 
I an old dude blowing dust from Dylan tapes and 
talking of trysts in threadbare car seats; but hey, 
any music can become your life music. For a short, 
high-RPM period, Patrick Wolf's became mine, and 
listening to The Bachelor I still find myself almost 
too close to focus. 

So; what can I see? There's a newfound fullness, 
certainly. This album is so flush with voices that it's 
hard to break in, to find the song deep within the 
flock. Big, serious-browed decisions were made 

Real tragedy, 
without the 

about The Bachelor. There was to be independence 
in the wake of the major label contract. Fans and 
investors gathered money for the orchestra, the 
production, the whims sparking up within Wolf's 
imagination; we ended up with whole choirs, 
collaborations and breathy voiceovers from 
Tilda Swinton. 

Meanwhile, in the bubble of too-closeness, 
I remember a few of these songs in their infancy: 
Theseus' rang out to the Union Chapel's rafters 
from an Appalachian mountain dulcimer, a London 
boy's vocal cords and nothing more. Here, it's 
furnished with flourishes; sitar rolling downhill, 
epic strings, call-and-response whisperings. 
It almost feels spoiled -and those choirs, 
oh-oh-OHing through 'Hard Times', everyone 
surrounding the principal voice. You might feel 
crowded out, but step up to the doors. 

It takes a few listens, maybe three or four; 
a few rattles in the lock. Then, suddenly, you come 
crashing in - and once you're in, there's heat from 
all the bodies. That italic-calligraphic melody of 
'Damans', straight out of some Gothic romance 
movie, captures you in an inkswoop, sounds like 
real tragedy, without the celluloid. This is what 
it's all been leading to; a new inclusivity. You can 
hear the whole stretch of Wolf's musical history 
collapsing into 'Oblivion', where the jump-and-clap 

beats of Lycanthropy combine with Wind In 
The Wires' wild strings and The Magic Position's 
pop sensibility. A sly verse melody invokes his BFF 
Bishi, and - hold on to your monocle -there's 
a little electric guitar. He experiments with genre; 
there's the train-tracks blues of 'The Bachelor' itself, 
two voices crowing, "I'm not going to marry in the 
fall/I'm not going to marry in the spring/I will never 
marry marry at all/No one will wear my silver ring. " 
Ditto his dalliances with Alec Empire: 'Vulture' 
is a synth-rave pervert creature, 'Battle' an actual, 
oily rock song with punk-voiced Englishmen crying 
"FIGHT!" behind Patrick as he hisses, retaliating 
against homophobia, conservatism, the culture 
of labelling. 'Count Of Casualty' is a war protest. 
'Who Will' is a first-person character sketch 
bemoaning hervirginity. Wolf has finally found 
the liminal space between looking inside and 
outside of himself. 

I'll allow the man to 'accidentally' kick me in 
the head with a blue leather brogue at future 
gigs for making such a judgement at my age, but: 
he has grown up. Unsurprisingly, next to the rest 
of us, growing up; but he's so doggedly honest 
about it, every shed skin cell of it ending up on CD 
again. Once more, he has fallen in and out of love, 
felt the depressive, deep punch of winter and the 
lifting hand of spring; and he's meticulously filmed 
and written down an ode to each second. 

'Blackdown' stirs me most; a slow-building, 
Irish-Celtic beauty, it contemplates Patrick's father 
and his own future as he wanders the South. 
From within soft, familiar piano balladry, he sings, 
"I've been alone for so many of the great moments 
in my life/Alone, like so many with this moment 
in my life" before staggering toward the rallying 
cry: "But desire, desire, desire, you are not the 
maker of me! "The song bursts into stomps and 
whistles, a Medieval victory dance. 

Life will surely never be anything but these falls 
and crawls back up - it can never be good or bad 
forever. I imagine there will be a few reviews calling 
this record melodramatic, schizophrenic; but all 
I can see is Wolf continuing, unfailingly, to 
document life's elegant cycle. 

Life music. 

Cycle music. 

Grab your bike and lookto the hills. 

plan b|65 


sun and ice 

Words: Chris Houghton 

Illustration: Overture 

The Field 

Yesterday And Today (Kompakt/Anti-) 
Nathan Fake 

Hard Islands (Border Community) 

The Field -Sweden's Axel Willner- has 
reason to be cheerful. His debut album, 
2007's beautifully alive From Here We Go 
Sublime, was an unexpected crossover hit, so 
acclaimed that it topped Metacritic's 2007 end 
of year list. Let's smile with him. It's almost like 
we've got no choice; what he does so well is 
stretch out ambient, atmospheric moments 
into tender-tough, emotional techno that 
locks on to your pleasure sensors and 
threatens never to let go. 

Yesterday And Today takes From Here We 
Go Sublime's blueprint into more textured, 
epic cosmic territory: while Willner has 
replaced his solo laptop shows with a band, 
this record still feels very much like a single- 
minded pursuit. Three of the six tracks exceed 
ten minutes; it's not a mini-album. This sense 
of expanse suits Willner; he takes the germ of 
an idea and nourishes it until it bursts. Ooener 

'I Have The Moon, You Have The Internet' 
begins from silence; after three minutes 
of slowly brightening noise, it erupts into 
familiar delight- playful microsamplesare 
held up to the light, examined, stretched 
out to infinity. 'Everybody's Got To Learn 
Sometime' is equally familiar, but somewhat 
unexpected. Borrowing from The Korgis' 
1 980 original (or perhaps reverse-engineering 
the early Nineties high-NRG version), it's 
the most joyous techno use of a recognisable 
melody since Ada's cover of Yeah Yeah Yeans' 
'Maps', all melancholy cadence and shifting- 

Grace and stamina 

sands melodies. 

There's a muted triumphalism to 
Yesterday And Today: 'Leave It' glimmers 
with glockenspiel loops and an unhurried 
sense of destination, while 'The More That 
I Do' bounds with electric energy, synths 
sounding like lasers fighting in space. Closer 
'Sequenced' is 1 6 minutes of metronomic 
machine-drone that recalls Neu! as much as it 
does either of Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient 
Works. The title track features Battles' John 
Stanier on drums, with an unanticipated 

bump'n'flextothe production, Stanier 
finishing on a two-minute flourish. They're 
the only two minutes that doesn't sound pixel 
perfect, but, overall, Yesterday And Today is 
another balletic display of grace and stamina. 

Nathan Fake was similarly lauded for his 
Four Tet-meets-Boards Of Canada 2006 debut, 
Drowning In A Sea Of Love, but has taken a 
leftfield spin with his own six track follow-up. 
Hard Islands is closer to the insistent, melodic 
techno with which he made his name (being 
unexpectedly championed by progressive 
house DJs such as John Digweed), but retains 
a toy town sensibility. At points, like on the 
glitchy and scratchy 'Castle Rising', you get 
visions of entire cities rebuilt in primary colour 
Lego. Indeed, everything Nathan Fake does 
has a sense of place, of movement, of seasonal 
drift- 'Basic Mountain' lushly cascades homely 
Aphex Twin noises downstream, while 
'Narrier' fuses Eighties shoot-em-up FX and 
pistoning avant-beats. It's the sort of music 
you'd expect to accompany a 22nd Century 
remake of Godard's Alphaville. 

Running at just over half an hour, 
Hard Islands feels like a mini-album. 
It's a gesture of in-betweenness that suits 
Fake-and our modern times. 

A Hawk And A Hacksaw 

Delivrance (Leaf) 

When one-time Neutral Milk Hotel drummer 
Jeremy Barnes first took on the guise of 
A Hawk And A Hacksaw, he sported a hat 
with a drumstick on it and played like a one- 
man band trying to soundtrack a silent 
Surrealist flick about a runaway piano. The 
arrival of fellow Alburquerque, New Mexico 
resident HeatherTrost- who also appears 
on Beirut's albums Gulag Orkestar and The 
Flying Club Cup- rendered the drum-hat 
redundant; and when the pair teamed 
up with Budapest's Hun Hangar Ensemble 
fortheir 2007 mini-album and tour, it 

sounded as though A HawkAnd A Hacksaw 
had finally found their missing members. 

If A Hawk And A Hacksaw And 
The Hun Hangar Ensemble had the feel 
of a party's first ice-breaking moments, 
Delivrance, their fourth album forThe Leaf 
Label, is the sound of festivities spilling 
out down the street in a whirling mass of 
limbs and Balkan melodies. Nowadays, 
Barnes is the ringmaster, chopping out 
off-beats on his accordion asTrost's darting 
fiddle, Ferenc Kovacs' trumpet and the 
ghoulish jangle of the cimbalom spiral into 
a dizzying blur. 
Abi Bliss 

Au Revoir Simone 

Still Night, Still Light (Moshi Moshi) 

Little has changed over the course of 
Au Revoir Simone's back catalogue 
(2005's Verses Of Comfort, Assurance 
And Salvation and 2007's The Bird Of 
Music). In fact, you'd be forgiven for thinking 
that Still Night, Still Light-\he\r\h\rd 
record for stellar indiepop label Moshi 
Moshi -was one of those albums. 

The Williamsburg trio of Erika Forster, 
Annie Hart and Heather D'Angelo have 
a pretty safe formula; their music is a 
combination of soft synths and hypnotic 
drums, which seem to consist solely of 

muffled hi-hats played at exactly the 
same speed throughout the entire 
album. Then, there are those vocals, 
which come from all three of them; 
irresistibly saccharine, they'd have 
you making daisy chains in winter. 
But, y'know, it's a pretty cute 
formula nonetheless; let's not be too hard 
on them. They've somehow made every 
song here sound Very Emotional -even if 
the specifics of those emotions are often 
unclear. Maybe you'd be best figuring 
them out with a pint of cool gin in a field 
full of flowers. 

66 1 plan b 


A fiercely independent purveyor of nice things. 


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We carry: Aurora Borealis • Bangor • Black Diamond • Bluurg • Constellation • Crass • Dischord • Durtro Jnana • Exile On Mainstream • Ipecac • Iron Pig • Kranky • Latitudes • Madrona • Midwich • Neurot • Nice & Friendly • 0IB • Rare Book Room 
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Words: Daniel Barrow 
Illustration: Sketchybeast 

Current 93 

Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain (Coptic Cat) 

"Apocalypse can be disconfirmed without 
being discredited. This is part of its extraordinary 
resilience" - Frank Kermode, The Sense Of An 
Ending: Studies In The Theory Of Fiction 

David Tibet, an autodidact prophet in the tradition 
of Gerrard Winstanley and John Lydon, has been 
preaching apocalypse for over 25 years. But no 
longer is he a voice crying in the wilderness: 
now, everyday, the air tingles with anxiety- global 
recession, energy crises, environmental disaster. 
Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain can be seen 
as a return to the matter of the first, recently 
reissued Current 93 recordings, whose ravaged 
soundscapes - a reaction to the Babylon of 
Thatcherite Britain -seem increasingly pertinent. 
Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain is probably 
Tibet's most ambitious project since 1 993's 
The Inmost Light trilogy. It is an eschatological 
rock opera of sorts, acted out in Tibet's own 
bewildering, syncretic cosmology, the frequent 
incomprehensibility of which matters no more 
than it did for Blue Oyster Cult on Imaginos. 

Its theme - which, as far as I can tell, is that of 
the war of opposites: flesh and spirit, Rome 
and Jerusalem, Samael and Monad - isn'tthat 
important, except as a justification for Tibet to 
deliver some of his most overwrought, fire-and- 
brimstone performances in Current 93's history. 
Those who accuse him of being campy and OTT 
will find plenty of fuel here: when he draws the 
word 'murderer' out over James Blackshaw's Early 
Music flourishes on 'Poppyskins', or whispers that 
"my teeth are possessed by demons" - snarls 
of guitar like lightning - he seems possessed 
of both sincerity and an awareness of how 

The war of opposites 

ludicrous he sounds. A gnostic Vincent Price, he 
rolls his 'R's in his best Abiezer Coppe impression. 

The (admittedly impressive) list of players 
gathered on this album is also unimportant. Except 
for Alex Neilson's supportive, malleable percussion 
(which occasionally resembles that of Om's Chris 
Hakius) and Blackshaw's guitarfiligrees, the 
ensemble is united in support of Tibet's benevolent 
demagoguery. In what is largely a continuation 
and ref i nement of 2 006's Black Ships Ate The Sky, 
grinding rock sits alongside becalmed folk. Even 
the peaks of Tibet's sermonising aggression are 
balanced out by plateaus of slowly-building 

tension girded with strings and organ. '26 April 
2007' is a narcotic glide shot through with coronae 
of fuzz; the voices - supplied by Pantaleimon's 
Andria Degens and Baby Dee, among others - 
drift like EVP 'Not Because. . . ' and 'As Real As 
Rainbows', are frighteningly intense: the former 
verges on metal, Tibet ventriloquising the 
final tribulation amid vast, electric slabs - his 
incantations sound like Ozzy narrating the end 
of Clash Of The Titans. After the extinction of 
Antichrist comes the advent of paradise in the form 
of a stately guitar and piano; and, when 'As Real 
As Rainbows' drops into a maelstrom of glitch, 
organ and piano - Degens and Sasha Grey 
speaking over the top - it's as moving as anything 
on Sleep Has His House, still C93's peak. 

"The deserts will be filled/With the comas 
ofsfars"speak Degens and Grey in words 
resonant with the promise of the millenarians 
who captivated England 360 years ago -that 
another world is possible, here and now. 

"I live in an increasing awareness that a Love 
will come suddenly who will finally tear our skies 
apart," Tibet wrote in the sleeve notes to Black 
Ships Ate The Sky. Aleph At Hallucinatory 
Mountain is the most preposterous warning yet 
of its imminent arrival; a vital reminder that the end 
of the world, if we choose, will also be the triumph 
of love. 

The Bats 

The Guilty Office (yesboyicecream) 

I experienced the dawn of the new 
millennium in Dunedin, New Zealand. 
It rained. One face of the town hall clock 
showed a different time to the other. On the 
lawn, a covers band struck up a song from 
Grease. Policemen cautioned teenage 
boys for knocking over bollards. The Bats 
are most commonly associated with this 
unprepossessing college town situated way 
down south in NZ (even though they're from 
Christchurch), primarily because founder 
member Robert Scott was in The Clean - 

the band that helped gestate the 'Dunedin 
sound', that heart-warming jangle of guitars 
and bevy of sturdy riffs that seemed to echo 
with the loneliness of wide open plains and 
drab inner city bohemia. (See also, The Chills, 
Straitjacket Fits, The Bats. . .oh wait.) If you're 
looking for parallels, look no further than 
London's Stolen Recordings (Pete And The 
Pirates, most particularly). How appropriate, 
then, that this new Bats album was sent via 
Stolen. It's as wonderful and quietly magical 
asThe Bats have been since they formed in 
1 982: it sneaks its way into my car stereo 
and work headspace when I least require 

rancour and most need reassurance. 
It contains songs the equal of even 
The Go-Betweens, and one ('The Orchard') 
that is as great as anything released from 
a 'Dunedin sound' band, which means it's 
about as great as anything released by a 
guitar-led band, full stop. 
Everett True 

Blank Dogs 

Under And Under (In The Red) 

Blank Dogs and I have been thrown together 
by dementia: the 1 5 tracks of Under And 
Under loiter in the gas of evaporated brain 

cells, drunk on the death stench of 
happiness, guilt and calm. Ravaged and 
confused, the anonymous Brooklyner flees 
to his bedroom/loft/basement to soundtrack 
the raw dimensions of an emptying skull 
with scything synths, cat-hiss guitars, 
bass glug and a throat that gargles static 
electricity. 'Setting Fire To Your House' mimics 
the predatory strut of The Cure's 'A Forest' to 
queer melodic effect, while 'Tin Birds' is the 
bleary-eyed pinnacle; elsewhere, Eno, Bowie, 
Curtis, Kraftwerk and X-/7/esliver-chomper 
EugeneTooms all seem spectrally present. 
Kev Kharas 

68 1 plan b 











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Words: Louis Pattison 

Illustration: Gwenola Carrere 

Wherein acid-blotter Occultists, synth 
vigilantes, and globe-hopping ethnomads 
mash history and tradition for fun and kicks 

The Skull Defekts: The Temple (Important) 
Sylvester Anfang: Sylvester Anfang II (Aurora Borealis) 
Bronnt Industries Kapital: Hard For Justice (Get Physical) 
Vialka: Succes Planetaire International (Dualplover) 

Typically I prefer to keep a certain delineation 
between music and academic theory, born out of 
a suspicion that heavy application of the latter has 
a habit of throttling the life out of the former. Still, 
Nicolas Bourriaud's notion of 'the Altermodern', 
subject of a recent exhibition at the Tate Modern, 
sounds like an interesting explanation of where 
we're at right now. Bourriaud's premise is that 
"artists are now starting from a globalised state 
of culture" which sees "multiculturalism and 
identity... overtaken bycreolisation" and heralds 
"a new universalism . . .based on translations, 
subtitling and generalised dubbing". It's a paradigm 
that seems to offer space for everything from 
the modern culture-mash of Gang Gang Dance, 
Vampire Weekend and Dirty Projectors to 
the sonic excavations of hauntology - and all, 
thankfully, without the tedious drift into irony 
and empty gesture that characterised consciously 
postmodernist art at its worst. Maybe there is 
nothing new under the sun - but new pathways 
between old platforms might just offer some new 
and unexpected vantage points. 

The Skull Defekts hail from Gothenburg, 
Sweden, but their new album, The Temple, with 
its crypto-Masonic cover art and song titles like 
'Urban Ritual' and 'Unholy Drums For Psychedelic 
Africa', imagines some futuristic occult artefact 
washed up on the banks of the Nile. Formed around 
the core duo of Joachim Nordwall (iDEAL label boss, 
formerly of Arab On Radar-esque rhythm punks Kid 
Commando) and Henrik Rylander (of veteran stoner 

unit Union Carbide Productions), The 
Skull Defekts have two speeds -fiercely 
minimal albums of sludge, typified by 
last year's The Drone Drug, and full-band 
pieces built around proto-tribal rhythms, 
chants and cranked guitar dissonance. 
The Temple is the latter, and probably 
The Skull Defekts' most consistent album 
yet. On 'Hydrophobic Baptism', drums 
dance along at a prehensile hop, guitars 
striking in at acute angles, while 'Six Sixes' 
commences with a rolling, ritualistic drum 
tattoo and gradually builds in density, 
Nordwall's chant- "The drum's the skull 
of God" -defiant from within a cyclone 

of shaped feedback. The result is brittle and metallic, 

elevated and full of stiff motion. 

Sylvester Anfang II are young basement 

jammers from Flanders, Belgium, but their second 

self-titled album - arriving a couple of years on 

Anything they pick up 
is theirs, and anything 
they put down returns 
to the flux 

from the fun but somewhat vestigial Silvester 
Anfang - comes cloaked in heavy robes. The name 
is swiped from the intro track on Mayhem's 1 987 
demo, the sleeve art is a montage of psychedelic 
imagery and cribbed pencil drawings of black 
masses presented with a gritty photocopier repro, 
and songs are called things like 'The Devil Always 
Shits In The Same Graves Pt I'. But if this is all, at 
heart, the stuff of dress-up, Sylvester Anfang II is the 
equivalent of the after-school Ouija board session 
that accidentally summons Lucifer to your dormitory 
room. Deeply zonked acid-rock built of growled 
Beef heart vocals, fizzing organ, drums beamed back 
from some Amon Duul commune freak-out, guitars 
noodlingon 'til the close of the Kali Yuga... yeah, 
this is disturbed, drug-damaged stuff, but with an 
internal pull not all day-trippers remember. 

Bronnt Industries Kapital is one guy, Guy 
Bartell, from Bristol. Last I heard, he was scoring 
live showings of Twenties witchcraft flick Haxan 
with chill winds, clacking clockwork and transistors. 
Hard For Justice, though, is something quite 
different. Recorded with help from Nick 
'Gravenhurst' Talbot, Bartell describes these eight 
tracks as "in open homage to the spirit of Eighties 
Hollywood vigilante cinema, low-rent sci-fi and 
Italian fright flicks" . Not sure about the cover - 
a rifle transmuting into a film projector, which 
maybe worked a bit better before pen touched 
paper- but the contents themselves are epic in 
a muted way, sheets of machine pulse and frosted 
synthesiser in the Goblin/John Carpenter mould, 
but presented with an human, organic edge that 
most of the other replicants jocking this sound for 
cold kicks lack. On 'European Male', you can really 
hear those cymbals ring, fingers snag on bass notes 
and brass yawn in hollow gusts; cold, but gentle. 

Vialka are Marylise Frecheville and Eric Boros. 
They make their base in a farmhouse in central 
France, but are residents of the world. If there's a 
better case of musical nomadism than Vialka, I'm 
yet to hear it: on Succes Planetaire International, 
anything they pick up is theirs, and anything 
they put down returns to the flux. It starts with 
'Premier Pas', an eccentric stitching of countless 
styles - oompah tuba, flowery pipes, xylophone, 
tangled splatter-drumming, keening vocals from 
Marylise, funereal folk laments from Eric, and 
invasive technology courtesy of guest noisician 
Crank Sturgeon, who hurls all sorts of random 
vocal gibberish into the fray. It lacks any discernable 
backbone but still dances the room on sheer vivacity 
and thrill for life. Elsewhere, there is dancing mbira 
from Duracell's Andrew Dymond ('Good Riddance'), 
Chinese song from Dada-inspired Beijing vocalist 
Xiao He ('Dutar') and a closing piece where Marylise 
and Eric milk the German folk song 'Hole In The 
Bucket' for maximum comedic effect. It's Vialka's 
most fragmented, silly, playful record to date, and 
listening to it you're reminded that what you look 
for in this world isn't newness perse - would you 
even recognise it if you saw it? - but art created with 
a passion for its place in the universe, art created out 
of sheer love for the now. 

70 1 plan b 


Kevin Blechdom 

Gentlemania (Sonig) 

One of these days the patriarchy will eat itself 
and people will realise that one of the most 
important psychedelic records of this decade 
was made not by some dudes with beards 
but by a freaking-out, broken-up-with 
woman schooled in classical composition, 
Max/MSP and nitrous oxide abuse. Kevin 
Blechdom's 2005 album Eat My HeartOut 
was a hyperreal glitch opera, beautifully 
overdriven both sonically and emotionally. 
Gentlemania concentrates on songwriting 
over electronics, and is an uncomfortable 
listen too, but for different reasons. 

There's no doubt Blechdom can write 
a neat country-inflected showtune, then 
front it with lyrics that seem to come from 
the itchy, stifling depths of self-doubt and 
depression and theniuck it around with 
camp vocalisations that leave you unsure 
whetherto empathise or laugh along. But 
the heavily processed quality of her earlier 
work somehow created the illusion that you 
were part of as well as party to the twists and 
turns of her psyche - and this more acoustic 
recording (including contributions from 
Mocky, Janine 'Planningtorock' Rostron and 
Kim Hiorthoy), despite some satisfyingly wry 
lyrical Blechdomisms, seems, sound-wise, 
oddly distanced in contrast. 
Frances Morgan 


Fear Draws Misfortune (Cuneiform) 

If it's lunatic, over-reaching grandeur you're 
after, then step this way. Cheer-Accident's 
1 6th release trowels it on. Fear Draws 
Misfortune comes across like Eighties 
King Crimson melded with a jazz-infused 
version of math-rock and charges around 
like a toddler. The 66-second thrash of 
'Mescalito' furiously crams in more ideas 
than some bands generate in 44 minutes. 
'Disenchantment' and 'Blue Cheadle', 
meanwhile, pile up bewildering layers 
of angular riffs, every available instrument 
in the studio grabbed and thrown into 
the churning mix. 'The Carnal, Garish City' 
adds Beefheartian holler and skronkto a 
Beach Boys-style chorus of "ba-ba-ba ", 
while finale 'YourWeak Heart' begins 
with corny MOR lyrics only to dive from 
the high board into total prog mayhem. Their 
ambition can't be faulted, but sometimes 
you wonder if less could be more. 
Euan Andrews 


Mythomania (Asthmatic Kitty) 

Cryptacize, much like Broadcast, evoke 
a sense of the Sixties that never existed. 
Mythomania sounds so empty, beautiful, 
upward-looking; yet it is made from the 
sound of downtrodden guitars, harpsichord 
chimes and NedelleTorrisi's voice, her 
vocal lines ever descending. The title track 
plays out on guitar and bass like a meeting 
of the Minutemen and a macabre circus, 
before cooling down for a stately vocal 
refrain; it's a compelling mesh, and one 
they've significantly developed since their 
debut album. Songs feel like snippets, yet 
texture is built upon, the rhythms and 
oompah bass lines more playful than 
previously. Like Blonde Redhead, you get 
the impression that Cryptacize want to bring 
you down; only to make you realise it's 
a beautiful state to be in. 
Jonathan Falcone 

Delegates Of Culture 

Bad Guys (School Bully) 

You think you're hard enough? Get real; 
Delegates Of Culture don't smoke no 
tabs — they smoke cigars.They're built like 
Cambridge's finest brick shithouses. And 
they're better than you. At least for now. 
Bad Guys sees the Delegates buff from eight 
years of heavy lifting, their tentative early 
work transformed into a sure expression of 
proletarian strength, straight off assuring 
us we're hearing "none of that posh shit, 
this is working class rap from the land of the 
lost-it", like Guy Ritchie with perspective and 
a brain. They hang on to their sanity even as 
they mourn the rest of us damned and pray 
forth resurrection with truths that 4x4s are 
"for sinners", sneering at little Engenders 
on the dole - "complaining Polish get the 
jobs "-when they're only glued to the sofa 
'cos they're "fucking lazy". They ref ix the 
Wu-Tang's 'CREAM' to demonstrate that 
its wisdom is universal, as true for Stockton, 
Teesside as it was for Staten Island. Amen. 
Ringo P Stacey 

Braveface (Transgressive) 

The weather boys and girls at Transgressive 
are usually more reliable than any 
meteorological report, and, with Esser's 
Braveface, they officially launch the 
summer of 2009. Granted, he favours 
an all-pervasive grey cloud of temporal 
bellyaching that's reminiscent of The 
Research -with the added chill of some 
passive misogyny on 'Satisfied' - but Esser 
can also shape sunny melodies with a 
chirpy, cod-philosophical sentiment. 
Braveface is a collection of sad songs 
for the pathologically cheery, a clutch of 
instantly familiar laptop pop that's lovingly 
crafted and sample-savvy. 

Great Lake Swimmers 

Lost Channels (Nettwerk) 

It's always risky to define yourself as 'great', 
even when you're referencing a historical 
figure like Lake Ontario swimmer Marilyn 
Bell. Indeed, Great Lake Swimmers' fourth 
album -while a satisfying sample of rustic, 
traditional songwriting - fails to evoke 
strong reactions. Recorded in a medley of 
environments - old churches, abandoned 
grain silos and rural locations — /.osf 
Channels is stripped of studio 
embellishments. Tony Dekker's humble 
voice (an instrument in itself) washes 
across muted instrumentals as log fires 
burn and colours hang in the sky. It's 
atmospheric but it doesn't quite captivate, 
and the threat of cliche waits in the wings. 
Despite the pretty compositions and mellow 
turns, Great Lake Swimmers' songwriting 
takes cover beneath overly practised 
techniques. We are left treading water. 

Teufelswerk (International Deejay 

Already this is being hyped to fuck, not just 
by people who are claiming it's the greatest 
single product of DJ Hell's long involvement 
in sexed-up European techno and that it's 
the album which is going to save his career, 
but also by those who just think that it's one 
of the greatest, most innovative, conceptual 
and ace dance records ever. Let me tell you 


Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free (Crammed) 

They may have lost a founder member, but Akron/Family 
have got the funk. Following the exodus of ponytailed 
axe-druid Ryan Vanderhoof (who recently revoked 
rock'n'roll for a life of Buddhist invocation), the 
Pennsylvanian avant-folk dudes herewith rebound as a bracing three-piece: 
their liberal, liberated alt-rock emanates free jazz, psychedelia, af robeat, 
metal, grizzly acoustics and blissed-out pop. Opening with the ethno-funk 
sucker-punch of 'Everyone Is Guilty' - a belting, errant groove that surfs 
cosmic jams and colossal orchestration - Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free's welter 
of aural curveballs conjures Graceland-era Paul Simon (the shimmering 
chug of 'River', the rodeo ballad of 'Set 'Em Free') and a wayward, prodigious 
school woodwind rehearsal (the burnished, fluttering croon of 'Gravelly 
Mountains Of The Moon'). 'Creatures', meanwhile, is a meandering, 
scorched serenade that makes me want to camp in the mountains. Is it 
acceptable to mention Tesla's Five Man Acoustical Jam a propos the latter 
half of this song? Or Temple Of The Dog? Probably not. 
Nicola Meighan 



one thing: it is not. Atechno double-album 
(woo!), the 'Night' half is all pulsating, wryly 
referential EBM featuring Bryan Ferry and 
P Diddy.The'Day' half (Mellon Collie And 
The Infinite SadnessmucUl) isn't really 
any different, perhaps only slightly more 
concerned with texture than purely seething 
dancefloor malevolence. It is a good album, 
and one that reveals subtleties the more you 
listen to it, but even if you raise Teufelswerk 
conceptually or musically against something 
similar- like The Knife's brutally concise 
Silent Shout, just three years old - then it 
sounds over-long, samey and self-important. 
David McNamee 

The Horrors 

Primary Colours (XL) 

Fuck me, don't they try hard? And doesn't 
it sound like it? Everything aboutThe 
Horrors gives the impression that it requires 
a great deal of effort on their part.This 
overwrought quality-the suggestion that 
they are straining at the very limits of their 
abilities -highlights just how sorely deficient 
they are as makers of music. Primary Colours 
sounds like what it is; a dull-eyed, inept 
attempt at repackaging some decent 
influences- Krautrock, late Seventies Bowie, 
MBV, the Furs - into something new and 
impressive FOR DA KIDS. Couple of hitches, 
though: the songs are, without exception, 
utterly dire and the performances are 
so lacking in finesse and invention that 
to expect any kind of listener response 
at all is, frankly, a fucking cheek. Special 
mention should really go to frontman Faris 
Badwan, whose charmless, tuneless, clueless 
sub-Brett Anderson warble should be torn 
out of his body, sealed in a lead container 
and walled up in a church basement where 
it can do no further harm. 
Joseph Stannard 

Icy Demons 

Miami Ice (Leaf) 

The sun is blistering and I'm wrapped in the 
sexy sounds of California, glittering buildings 
all around. I'm in a good mood today; 
it might be the British weather holding 
out for a couple of days, it might be the 
boozy company, but it's at least a little to 
do with Icy Demons' Miami Ice. At its worst, 
the third record by this group of Chicago 
musicians courts near-muzak ('Summer 
Samba'); this makes me itchy, but such 
moments are infrequent. At its best, you 
getthepinwheeling syncopation of 'Jantar 
Mantar', rich with flourish and colour and 

deeply, deeply satisfying, or 'Crittin's Down 
To Baba's', a funky little journey through 
a sinful night out. I feel like I'm clapping 
along to a pimped-out Nintendo, wholly 
absorbed by this odd little blend of psych/ 
prog-rock and Eighties staples. 
Matthew Sheret 


Tut Tut, Now Shake Ya Butt (Truth Cult) 

This album is split in two. Perhaps one part 
is 'tut tut' and the other is to do with butts. 
There's scuzzy pop-punk, with puerile, banal 
lyrics. And then there's a scattering of poems 
by Crass' Penny Rimbaud, with sparse, 
dramatic percussion. So, you'll find the 
catchphrasepleato "tear off the chains, 
that we be free again" shuffled in the deck 
with 'Bumpin' RapTapes' proclaiming that 
"all is you gotta do, is call me up and tell 
me you love me ". This image image of 
being shackled recurs in another poem, the 
1 0-minute monologue 'Africa Seems So Far 
Away', so let us call it a theme -Japanther 
are bound by their crude, nasal protocols, 
Rimbaud by his pompous Jackanoryisms. 
This coupling is not complementary; if 
Japanther made catchy, messy synth'n 'riffs, 
and Rimbaud said something meaningful, 
then perhaps the last phrase of the album 
wouldn't be self-mocking: "What madness 
is it that we do not see the beauty of love, or 
feel the touch of grace?" 
Miranda lossifidis 

Kap Bambino 

Blacklist (Because) 

Kap Bambino's Zero Life Night Vision saw 
the duo framed as a Gallic Crystal Castles, 
only without all the touchy feeliness. That 
is to say, its defining characteristic was a 
total absence of humanity, listening to it 
a little like being beaten with something 
electrical while a French woman yelped in 
your general direction. It's only on these 
terms that successor Blacklisted^ possibly 
be described as 'electro-pop', but, certainly, 
Caroline Martial and Orion Bouvier have 
reined things in a tad: the deep purrs of 
synth shaking the title track into life have 
an icy, Ladytron-ish confidence, while 
'Acid Eyes' is definitely more of a hoot 
than you'd expect.Thing is, the hostility 
of Zero Life Night Vision was one of its more 
bracing features; for all Blacklist's red-eyed 
dystopia, its comparative mellowness means 
the band run a risk of sinking into the 
chiptune firmament. 
Andrzej Lukowski 

plan b 1 71 




in** 1 


#**#»- * 



■ tv »t'iii t ; 


textbook mystery 

Words: Noel Gardner 
Illustration: Carla Barth 


Open Strings: Early Virtuoso Recordings From The 
Middle East, And New Responses (Honest Jon's) 
Sir Richard Bishop 

The Freak Of Araby (Drag City) 
For 78rpm-era collector heads, being 
granted permission to explore the EMI vault 
in Middlesex is probably like being caught 
smoking and made to finish the whole packet 
as punishment. Reputedly a nightmare of 
confusing filing systems, it contains literally 
hundreds of thousands of records, snaking 
back over a century. The oriental 78s from 
the Twenties, effectively impossible to find 
anywhere else (they were exported back to 
the performers' home countries rather than 
being given UK releases), have been mined 
here by the Honest Jon's crew over two years, 
resulting in Open Strings. 

The first of its two discs boasts 20 tracks. 
They are mostly performed on the oud, the 
Middle Eastern cousin of the lute, mostly 
taxims (improvised pieces for one instrument, 
often to accompany a dance performance) 
and mostly by musicians lost to time's cold 
touch. The second disc comprises 'responses' 
by 1 acts from today's experimental folk 
scene (all solo save for M V&EE). Meanwhile, 
former member of prolific Arizona trio Sun 
City Girls Sir Richard Bishop, who opens the 

second Open Strings disc with the haunting 
'Olive Oasis', presents The Freak Of Araby, 
his first Drag City release and one inspired by 
his Lebanese grandfather's record shelves and 
the Arabic music that he's absorbed of late. 

A number of sides on Open Strings- Abdul 
Hussein Khan Shahnazi's 'Mavaraounnahr' 
being perhaps theshining example-could be 
held up as analogous with Appalachian folk 
music; they share the same dextrous, frenzied, 
fearless interpreting of a people's music. 
Elsewhere, Sami Shawa, who would later 
be dubbed "master of Arabic violin", 
compares to pretty much nothing you'd 
ever hear in the Western orchestral canon: 

Dextrous, frenzied, 

his instrument sounds like crumbled concert 
halls, rusting and splintering. 

One has to go on one's instincts somewhat 
to tease out the Middle Eastern influences 
from much of the second disc: both Charlie 
Parr's 1 1 minutes of intense, knotted blues 
and 'Mortissa', by Micah Blue Smaldone 
(ex-hardcore dude goes country-folk), 
come off as - admittedly fine - riffs on 
the American canon. 

However, Bruce Licher (Scenic, Savage 
Republic) does that kind of guitar-as-sitar 
drone work that makes the flight path explicit, 
and Paul Metzger is a scholar at the foot of 
people like John Fahey and Sandy Bull who 

were fired by the Arabic virtuosos some 
decades previous. 

Of the 10 tracks on The Freak Of Araby, 
four are original Bishop compositions and six 
are covers or adaptions of traditional songs. 
'Solenzara' is a tune with literally countless 
versions in existence, the best known being 
by Enrico Macias; Bishop imbues it with an 
almost surf-rock air, which is returned to 
infrequently. (This sonic link doesn't spring 
from a vacuum - read up on the cultural 
origins of 'Miserlou', commonly associated 
with Dick Dale.) 

Forthefirsttime on one of his albums, 
Bishop has assembled a backing band. 
They play guitar, bass, chanters, hand drums 
and percussion, and are all Arabic. You'll 
appreciate, no doubt, the queasy cynicism 
that inevitably rises when someone richer 
and more famous than our charge here 
does something similar. Indeed, you can find 
people who flatly plant this sort of thing, be it 
'underground' people like Sun City Girls or The 
Ex or Aaron Dilloway or Open Strings' second 
disc, in the trough of flitting ethnic tourism. 

It's probably best to ignore them, really. 
In a perfect world, everyone would have the 
ability to appreciate all global musics equally 
and without pervasive outside influence -and 
there would be no need for cross-continental 
collaborations or for musicians to step outside 
of their allotted ghettoes. A perfect world, 
that is, in which there would be no awesome 
albums like these. 

Spayed (Trouble) 

At this year's Ladyfest Goldsmiths, I was 
blown away by Rachel Mary Callaghan's 
'thing' (voice as loud as explosives, hair 
as red as blood, boots as sharp as knives). 
She was Karen fuelled by even darker 
forces, and her band were doom-mongers 
with a record collection chock full of old- 

school punk and metal. But on record, the 
London quartet have less to hide behind. 
Ex-Test Icicle Rory Bratwell's Black Sabbath 
and X-Ray Spex riffs sound ripped off instead 
of reinvented, Callaghan's vocal is more 
a tuneless Kate Jackson than an elegantly 
twisted hipster and the record's obsession 
with the grislier side of life ('Taxidermy', 
'Bone You') is as unconvincing as trendy kids 

who reckon they're Richey Edwards 'cos they 
skipped a dinner or two. 
Tom Howard 

Gregg Kowalsky 

Tape Chants (Krank 

Oakland-based tape manipulator Gregg 
Kowalsky 's softly heavy drone works are 
rare in conveying an impression of total 

involvement and commitment from their 
creator's point of view. Much so-called 
'immersive' music is thrown off course 
when the listener senses too explicitly the 
musician's own deficient attention threshold 
ortheir anxiety concerning what 'should' be 
happening at certain points; Tape Chants, 
like Through The Cardial Window, guides 
us imperceptibly - if at all - as warm, reedy 

72 | plan b 


we're not doomed 

Words: kicking_k 
Illustration: Lauren Minco 

Das Wanderlust 

Horses For Courses (Don't Tell Clare) 

Myths about indie, parts 1 -3: 

1. It's dead. 

It's not. It's healthier than it's ever been, but it's 
pruned its eccentricities and it's all over television 
and you hate that (me too). In 'Celebrate 
Ourselves', Das Laurasusansimmons sings "I'm 
jealous of those people who are successes by 21," 
passive-aggressively nailing the industry's parade 
of schlockwaved debutantes over trebly guitar 
squalls as brief as feather-ruffles. 

2. OK, then, the rise of such Holly oaks I Skins 
soundtrack strategies has taken indie spirit 
and turned it into style. 

I'm tempted to agree, 'cause it's the kind of line 
you can milk for brimstone to contaminate yr 
enemies with. But, if we're honest, 'indie' has 
been a contested descriptor for as long as it's 
been in use. Just ask Everett True what he thinks of 
The Smiths. And anyway, what are Das Wanderlust 
if not old school indie? Songs made to be pop, 
doomed by their makers' inability to master 
populism, probably rooting from a history of 
unpopularity. For illustration, Horses For Courses 
includes: dainty lullaby micro-chimes, loud/QUIET 
dynamics, singing sans American accents, the 
reaching back to simplest instruments, to 

childhood hymns and playground chants and 
music lessons, and a capella pop songs retooled 
by the limitations of the untrained voice, deadpan 
puns and wonderfully blunt punk lyrics 
("Perception is a funny thing/It makes you 
think you 're really good when you 're really quite 
shit"), knowingly anti-cool refs to magazines and 
favourite TV soap characters. Its art is as evident 
in hitting the wrong notes as the right ones (and 
that's a skill their more successful peers can't 
muster). When we talk about indie spirit, we 

Honesty isn't a 
thespian gesture 

mean a deep Venn kiss between amateur and 
auteur-too much commercial sense creates 
templates, too much control leads to sterility. 

3. Major label indie bands are killing 
DIY culture. 

Don't blame the bands-or labels- who diligently 
follow where sales lead. In that respect, they're 
actually pretty democratic. No, it's the media; it 
has proven itself too easily pleased, too keen to 
pander to that agenda. Recently, music journalism 
has become more about 'the acts that will be big', 
'the tracks you should hear' - predicting success 
or homogenising 'cool' ratherthan exploring 
ideas, or championing principles. And anyway - 

see above - it's not dead. . .although this album has 
been in label limbo for 1 8 months due to industry 
shenanigans. Perhaps that would matter if it had 
been precision-tooled to fit with fashion, but that 
is, how to say, not the case. In fact, that's kind of 
the point. From 'Pyramintro's careful atmospherics 
underlaid by how-to-play instructions ("and 
down to D, uh-oh. . . ") to the wronged folk ballad 
'Seashanty', fermented with nettle-sharp riffs plus 
popping candy rhythm section, there's not a whole 
lot of trend-hoppin' goin' on. 

And what I like most about Das Wanderlust, 
when it all comes down to words on a page, 
is what I like most about any band - that their 
sound comes from themselves, their chemistry, 
their limitations, their poverty, even. They're an 
indie band in 2009 obsessing over their position 
as an indie band in 2009. They realise honesty isn't 
a thespian gesture, isn't about reheating inclusive 
platitudes to room temperature. It's not about 
sharing what you feel. It's about interrogating that, 
however difficult, which makes you and what you 
do. It's questions, not answers. 

This is a neurotic, inconsistent record which 
balances tantrum dynamics with the momentum 
of melody, dares to be autobiographical even 
when that equals the musical equivalent of an 
unflattering photograph, and feels knowable - 
and loveable-forit. Ultimately, is there a better 
definition of indie than independent-minded? 

layers of suggested melody ebb and flow 
around distant but hard-edged, heart-like 
pulses.This hands-off effect is likely to be 
related to Kowalsky's working methods: 
Tape Chants' live incarnation was a series of 
performances which utilised cassette tapes 
and players with no other amplification but 
their own speakers, mixed live according to 
the acoustics of the room. Such sensitivity to 
space, and to the singularly 'human' quality 
of cassette, a I lows the recorded version of 
Tape Chantslo flow all the easier into your 
own listening environment. First impressions 

might state that little is going on here; 
second impressions will lead you to 
rememberthatthis is often the hallmark 
of the most keepable drone records. 
Frances Morgan 

Leverton Fox 

Country Dances (Gravid Hands) 

Despite its folksy title, there is little that's 
rustic about London jazz/electronics trio 
Leverton Fox's debut album - but there 
is much that's organic, if we take organic 
to mean the dances of cells meeting and 

dividing or the rhythms of fractal fern 
growth. Alex Bonneyjim Giles and Matt 
Groom use live percussion and brass 
alongside processed sounds, field recordings 
and pure electronics to create tense, 
exploratory pieces that recall both early 
Radiophonics Workshop experiments and, 
particularly on 'Spume', the meld of acoustic 
and electric sound that shapes Herbie 
Hancock's Sextant.Jhe album's first half is 
scuttling and gently abrasive, each player 
poised to contribute clicks, scrapes, brief 
drones and a grab-bag of modulated 

electronic sounds used to similar effect by 
Supersilent. Comparisons to the Norwegian 
improvising group make more sense as 
the longer, gentler but noise-inflected 
'N4 Comedown' surges into a complex, 
infectious rhythm. Like them, Leverton Fox 
stake out the relationship between more 
idiomatic improvised music, noise and 
electronica, but do so using a deeply 
enjoyable vocabulary that, despite the 
impressive pedigrees of all members, seems 
at all times full of the edgy joy of discovery. 
Frances Morgan 

plan b 1 73 


Bill Wells and Maher Shalal Hash Baz 

Gok (Geographic) 

Slightly baffling, this - Gok is, essentially, a studio version 
of 2006's live set Osaka Bridge, the differences between 
the two being almost nanoscopically subtle (aside from 
the addition of the relatively rambunctious 'Wiltz Water'). 
Maher and Wells are a therapeutic, complementary partnership. Even when 
unendurably mournful, Wells' confident, ultra-concentrated melodies 
promise that all will be right with the universe. Maher, virtuoso players who 
gleefully give themselves over to the ramshackle, extract comfort from chaos. 

These bum notes and gloopy timings are so much more than gimmicky 
faux-naivete. Welcoming and unselfconscious, Maher convey the contagious 
joy of music-making as a communal activity. In happy mode, Gok is a 
junior school band playing the Ronnie Hazelhurst songbook, accidentally 
beautifully. But there's sorrow too, in the excruciatingly spare, poignant 
'On The Beach Boys' Bus' and 'Time Takes Me So Back'. Mako Hasegawa's 
vocals are more tangible (sweeter, perhaps?) than Reiki Kudo's spectral 
solitude on Osaka Bridge, but they're just as vulnerable. Given both parties' 
prolific nature, new music would've been nice. But if it takes rerecording and 
wider distribution to earn these tunes a heftier audience, then who am I to 
be the churl in the chowder? Especially when the music is as unapologetically 
wonderful as this. Those familiar with its live ancestor may be befuzzled by 
Gok's purpose, but consider this an opportunity to be charmed again. 
Matt Evans 

Lindstrom and Pnns Thomas 

II (Eskimo) 

A re-listen to the Norwegian producer duo's 
2005 album reveals Lindstrom and Prins 
Thomas to have been ahead of the cosmic 
disco game, with sultry synths and bongo- 
and-strum Balearic/space stylings amid 
playful, detailed house. Five years - and 
Lindstrom's fantastic Manuel Gottsching- 
referencing solo album, and the emergence 
of a really confusing dance aesthetic -later, 
and the beats are further tamed and buffed, 
with eight long (average nine minutes), lush 
representatives of a sonic palette that's so 
close to being beyond the pale that it could 
only be acceptable right now. Spanish and 
Middle-Eastern string flourishes, ascending 
piano chords more Yes than anything in 
clubland, hazy, lambent synth sweeps, 
a tick-tocking Cluster drum machine (on 
'Flue Pa Veggen') and a melodic steal from 
Madonna's 'Holiday' are just a few of the 
referential frissons on offer, but all are carried 
off with textural and melodic finesse, and the 
kind of panache that- well, that makes you 
use words like 'panache'. 
Frances Morgan 

Jason Lytle 

Yours Truly, The Commuter (Anti-) 

"Last thing I heard I was left for dead/Like 
I give two shits about what they said/I may 
be limping/But I'm coming home. " 

As opening gambits to Americana-pop 
records go, former Grandaddy leader Jason 
Lytle comes out fairly swinging within 
seconds of his comeback's title track. His 
declaration tempers a heartening trademark 
sadness with a trucker cap of barely 
contained irritation toward perceptions of 
his stint in the musical wilderness. 

Hinting at the atmosphere of old-world 
values versus modernity that Grandaddy 's 
The Sophtware Slump captured so perfectly 
almost a decade previously, a sense of 
deflated bewilderment permeates Yours 
Truly The Commuter.WhWe those 
eponymous travellers make daily dashes 
to skyscraping office blocks, on 'Ghost Of 
My Old Dog' Lytle is squirreled away on a 
metaphorical back porch conversing with 
deceased pets. His return is a telling triumph 
shot through with a ramshackle sort of care. 
Adam Anonymous 


We Be Xuxa (Post Present Medium) 

Mika Miko are an adorable quintet who 
specialise in writing short, dumb songs 
about subjects as utterly irrelevant as 
wanting a turkey sandwich. They're a lot 
less intellectually bewildering than fellow 
products of Los Angeles' all-ages rockathon 
The Smell; a lot less life-affirming, too. 

But their danceable thrash is just as 
lively as that of stablemates Abe Vigoda or 
No Age, and these all-female bass-lovers 
sound like they're having a wild time 
pumping out their blues-tinted scuzz-punk. 
Plus, to reward young'uns ballsy enough 
to make a second album, WeBeXuxa's 12 
tracks last a pleasingly brief 22 minutes. You 
might as well get it in your ears 'cos hardly 
any time will be lost and plenty of innocent 
vigour will be gained. 
Tom Howard 

Miss Kittin And The Hacker 

Two (Nobody's Bizzness) 

With a cosmic opener entitled 'The Womb', 
which is nowhere near as cosy as it sounds, 
Two settles instantly into comfortable, 
easy-listening electro territory. Having 
played Miss Kittin's solo album / ComXo 
death a couple of years ago, I'm not entirely 
sure what I wanted or, indeed, expected 
from Two. If it had sounded too much like 
/ Com then, for sure, I would've bitten my 
own hands off and thrown them wildly at 
anything that looked like it might be an 'off 
switch. So, you know, good news: it doesn't 
sound like that. In fact, as it trundles along, 
the excitement factor multiplies itself 
accordingly. By the time 'Indulgence' 
arrives, we're in intense party mode; Miss 
Kittin with her full-on Germanic temptress 
manner andThe Hacker summoning some 
beats straight from the outer cosmos. 
The cover of 'Suspicious Minds' is a pretty 
unnecessary curveball but, that aside, Two 
is a super-respectable party soundtrack. 


Saskamodie (Crammed) 

Guarding a sonic arsenal that's as diverse 
as his personal influences (a Somali father, 
an English mother and an upbringing in 
Canada with spells in London, Amsterdam 

and Berlin), Mocky certainly revels in variety. 
His early work draws on his wry humour, 
combining notions of deconstructed 
hip-hop with chunks of soft, gloopy bass. 
With Saskamodie, he's recorded a largely 
instrumental record that takes in jazz, 
ambient acoustic and sensual instrumentals 
in a way that rips all three to shreds and 
painstakingly reconstructs something 
beautiful from the debris. It's a revelatory 
gem of postwar sensibility; an evocative unit. 
Anne Hollowday 

My Latest Novel 

Deaths And Entrances (Bella Union) 

At first glance, My Latest Novel are typical 
of Bella Union's orchestral, melodious, folk- 
tinged remit.Tightly woven song structures 
build to thumping, calorific crescendos 
that are utterly unsurprising. Delve further, 
though, and you'll realise that Deaths And 
Entrances, the band's second album, is a 
finer cut than 2006 debut Wolves. Sharing 
its title with a Dylan Thomas poem, the 
record meanders across both natural and 
metaphysical plains, gathering references 
to culture and literature in a swag bag that 
houses grand metaphors, ghostly imagery 
and dreamscapes . Deaths And Entrances 
might not sparkle with gleaming originality 
but it will enchant you with defiant, layered, 
crafted sonic nuggets. 
Anne Hollowday 

When I See The Sun It Always Shines 
On TV (The End) 

The first thing that hits you is the cover; 
Nadja's Leah Buckareff and Aidan Baker 
illustrated by Mathew Smith in the style of 
a ScoobyDoo (or perhaps The NewSchmoo, 
for the obscurants among us) cartoon, 
standing at the forest's edge, kitted out 
like survivalist librarians. It's the kind of 
neo-twee packaging designed to wind up 
meatheads who view the Canadian duo as 
the epitome of everything wrong with the 
experimental fringes of metal. 

The album's eight cover versions, of 
songs by MBV, Codeine, Swans, Slayer, 
A-Ha, Elliott Smith, Kids InThe Hall and 
The Cure, are just as lovingly rendered, each 
representing a vital part of the band's genetic 
make-up. Of the highlights, 'Only Shallow' 
sounds exactly as you'd imagine - MBV on 
33rpm -while 'Dead Skin Mask' revels in the 
gruesome psychedelic quality common to 
all Slayer's slower songs. Though no doubt 
intended as a light-hearted diversion, the 
album is perhaps the perfect introduction 
to this overwhelmingly prolific band. 
Joseph Stannard 

Orcustus (Southern Lord) 

It's a laughable suggestion, of course, but 
if you happen to be sick of black metal 
bands augmenting their tremolo fuzz with 
elements of post-rock, dubstep and hiplife, 
this could be your band. Formed in 2002 
byfrontmanTaipan, Orcustus are a nasty, 
no-frills, by-the-book Norwegian BM outfit 
with occasional avant leanings-witness the 
psychedelic outro to 'Of Sophistry, Obsession 
And Paranoia' -which exist onlyto add 
flavour to a robust, failsafe recipe. Gorgoroth 
members Tormentor (guitars/bass) and 
Infernus (aka the one convicted of 'gross 
negligent rape' in 2003 aka the one who left 
Gorgoroth and took the band's name with 

him aka the bassist) appear on several tracks, 
lending strength toTaipan and drummer/ 
lyricist Dirge Rep's speed-soaked buzzfests. 
The general emphasis on speed means that 
when the band slow down to a martial 
stomp, as on 'Jesus Christ Patricide' - not a 
projected Andrew Lloyd Webber sequel -the 
effect is devastating. 
Joseph Stannard 

Pan American 

Wild Bird Release (Kranky) 

This album is luscious. I want to describe it 
by evoking those moments of drifting away, 
forgetting all physical things. Those are 
the best times. Wild Bird Release^ latest 
contribution from Labradford vocalist 
Mark Nelson to the world of thoughtful 
experimentalism and field recordings, 
is annotated with ambiguous whispers 
and threaded with languid melodies. 

Reminiscent of Ch ristopher Wi Hits, 
the guitar is prominent above layers of soft, 
granular distortion, elegant and echoing 
throughout.This cluster of songs is not 
monochromatic: ambience is delicately 
orchestrated, its scope ambitious. 
Significantly, the song titles combine to 
form a quote from Dr Robert Godard in 
a letter to HG Wells in 1932: 'There can 
be no thought of finishing, for aiming at 
the stars, both literally and figuratively, is 
a problem to occupy generations, so that 
no matter how much progress one ,akes, 
there is always the thrill of just beginning.' 
This is a gentle collection; I wish it would 
loop, always. 
Miranda lossifidis 

The pAperchAse 

Someday This Could All Be Yours Part I 

John Congleton is American indie's go-to 
guy for big production. When he's not 
making bands like Explosions InThe Sky 
orTheThermals sound gigantic, he's giving 
himself headaches as frontman of The 
pAperchAse. His voice stubbornly refuses 
to find appropriate notes, its unhinged 
raggedness suiting his band perfectly. 
Dozens of instruments power the chamber 
stomp of Arcade Fire into Cursive's outrage. 

Someday This Could All Be Yours is a 
dense rock album, atonal melodies piled 
upon each other. The raw, violent production 
makes some sense out of a reckless tumble 
of lyrical imagery: burial, nature's violence, 
rape, religion. This isn't an ignorable listen. 
'What Should We Do With Your Body' begins 
with scrapyard percussion, misbehaving 
guitars and furious piano. By its morose 
conclusion, Congleton has incorporated 
mad, canine vocals and what sounds 
a cheeky harmonium solo. This track in 
particular is a microcosmic manifesto for 
a towering record. 
Thorn Gibbs 


I Feel Cream (XL) 

The first track is pure, classic, unadulterated, 
feckless, fuckless Peaches: "I don't give 
a fuck if you fall for me, "she intones; 
"/ don 'tgive a fuck if you phone me. " 
It's the same-old, same-old, sorta, except 
that the production is crispier, with icy FX 
and a cold-sounding vocal. 

I get sick of that shit. I find myself 
wondering why she has to prove so hard 
that she doesn't care. But then, suddenly, 

74 1 plan b 


with the next song, she's singing, bleeding 
her heart out. "/ don 't wanna lose you! " 
Huh? And so it goes on, song by song: the 
two themes in crazy tandem, taking turns, 
one by one. Idon'tgiveafuckifyoucallme/ 

This vulnerable stuff is new, twice as 
raw as those old fuck-me blues and four 
times sexier: as the record draws to an 
end, the lyrics become wordier, more 
narrative-based, driving us down the long 
roads of longing like she's an electronic 
beat-poet, genderless and tuff. Forget 
the bravado, this is what Peachsex really 
sounds like: brave, ugly, tender, cold, hot; 
rough and raw and slick, all at once. 
Jesse Darlin' 


Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix (V2) 

Last year, St Albans' Friendly Fires made 
a sharp if slightly toothless Noughties 
pop record peppered with musical and 
lyrical nods to funky France. On their fifth 
album, Paris' Phoenix have repeated the 
trick, but they're looking the other way 
across the Channel. 

'Countdown' invokes the shameless 
grandeur of mid-period Pet Shop Boys, 
while 'Armistice' subtly drops Joy Division 
song titles into a hyperdisco nugget powered 
by insistent, clipped guitars. There's a self- 
consciously seedy Eighties thread running 
through Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix 
that leaves tacky neon sunset trails on 
everything from the stately '1 901 ' to the 
smarmy, perky 'Lisztomania'. 

Occasionally, these resolutely 
competent hooks suggest Phoenix have 
admitted remix defeat. You just knowsome 
eight minute remake of 'Lasso' by, say, Erol 
Alkan will end up a thousand times more 
revered than the lightweight OK Go-ish 
version on here. There's also a limit to how 
much woozy chirpiness one can handle in 
our grey country before it feels like you're 
just being laughed at. 
Thorn Gibbs 

Pink Mountaintops 

Outside Love (JagJaguwar) 

They say that every white indie dude 
has one quasi-country gospel record in 
them, and far be it from Black Mountain's 
Stephen McBean to deny it. 

With Outside Love, McBean's onetime 
'sex-blues' solo project, Pink Mountaintops, 
assumes prodigious dimensions but 
manages to stay pleasingly earthbound - 
or at the very least avoid going the full 
Jason Pierce on us. That's not to say this 
album doesn'tfeel a little like an indulgence, 
especially next to the taut grooves and 
lurking menace of 2006's Axis OfEvol; 
but there's an enchantingly homespun 
feel to it. McBean's 'choir' consists of a 
ragged crew of Canadian indie luminaries, 
while the mic proper is frequently ceded 
to the melancholic keening of Black 
Mountain's AmberWebber. There's a 
humility at this record's heart; the songs 
are vertiginous, wobbling their way up 
to hard-fought, soulful climaxes. Pink 
Mountaintops skip pseudo-Biblical 
imagery in favour of a heartfelt roar (of 
nothing more portentous than "Everyone 
I know deserves a holiday"). 

Oh, and the mock Danielle Steele 
artwork is pretty amusing. 
Andrzej Lukowski 

Asher Roth 

Asleep In The Bread Aisle (Island) 

Living in Brighton, I'm well aware that 
amiable stoners often make soukrushingly 
bland music. I don't hold it against them, 
and in that sense I'm likewise totally cool 
with Pennsylvanian Asher Roth. Hey, I'm 
white and I smoke weed as well, so that's 
two things we've got in common. 
Thing is, ain't no useless bores 
down here getting megabucks deals to 
hire Cee-Lo, Jazze Phe and Busta Rhymes 
for their album. Our locals are easy to 
to ubiquity. Why? Dumb luck. Someone 
with money realised the only thing Vanilla 
Ice did wrong was lie about his background 
(so . . . Bread Aisle's lead-off single is called 
'I Love Collage'). There's a shitload of folks 
who identify and (crucially) feel the need 
to have their tedious lives validated by an 
MC with zero talent wrapped up in well- 
marketed product with proficiently equalised 
production. People who don't demand that 
music challenge or inspire them. Cretins. 
Ringo P Stacey 

Actor (4AD) 

Her chiselled cheekbones adorn the album 
sleeve and Actorbnms with her signature 
electronic orchestration, but this record is 
a performance unlike Annie Clark's previous 
work. While composing, she submerged 
herself in her favourite films ( The Wizard 
OfOz, Sleeping Beauty Pierrot Le Fou, 
Badlands) and dreamt up scenes of 
enchanting, Technicolor indulgence. 
Harmonics cascade, keys twinkle and 
the precision of those drum-machine 
beats strengthens the shimmering 
soundscapes.But, as with all traditional 
fairy tales, there's a darkness behind the 
swaying woodwinds and dreamy vocals; 
a staggered, sinister presence. Guitars 
stab; heavy distortion rises in a thick swell. 
A happy ending looks set to be an unlikely 
outcome, the shards of melody at once 
blindingly radiant and dangerous. It seems 
that Actons a rather magnificent meeting 
of beauty and the beast. 

Nests Of Waves And Wire (Southern) 

One half of San Franciscan duoTartufi, 
Lynne Angel earns her rent by teaching 
under-sevens how to rock during the day. 
In this cool and funny lady's class, the 
youngsters are in bands with names like 
Sabre Tooth CatWoman Lives Forever or 
Lazer Cats Of Death and they sing songs 
about hamsters that bite you and how the 
food in the fridge smells terrible. It's a given 
that this class is loads more fun than the 
ones where you have to watch that terrible 
film with thatterrible man in it. Indeed, 
there is a certain childlike aspect to Tartufi's 
beguiling first album for Southern records, 
Nests OfWaves And Wire, but it's an 
innocence regained through experience, 
asWilliam Blake might have had it. 
Along with Brian Gorman (also a 
kindergarten rock professor and member 
of Yotsu Oki Mame) and Comets On Fire 
producerTim Green, Tartufi build intricate 
loops of organic alt rock and lay freak folk 
riffs over clattering campfire rhythms. 
The effect is rapturous, strident. 
John Doran 


Temporacha (Room40) 

This is the latest piece of sound art and 
found noise from a dreamy Japanese duo 
who exercise restraint like Zen masters. 
Saya and Ueno's music is ripped, ever so 
delicately, from their subconscious; they 
track their muse with exquisite patience 
into strange caves of ambient 
otherworldliness.The effect plays on your 
ears like the discovery of a never-before-seen 
fish with a sublime neon glow, enchanting 
the eyes of a Jacques Cousteau. 

Tenniscoats' arrangements are 
spartan; they use accordion, bells, Saya's 
heart-melting vocal (utilised sparingly, 
teasingly), oddly meditative recordings 
of cars whooshing by. After a while, those 
cars begin to sound like ocean waves. 

Temporacha endures 25 minutes, but 
you may as well call it 50; you'll end up 
playing it twice in a row, surely. 

Call it light-headedness, but consider 
yourself forewarned - this is most certainly 
not background listening. 
Shane Moritz 



Within 2009's rave parameters, ToddlaT's 
credentials are: nothing new. White boy 
makes bleepy dancehall from Sheffield is 
so early Nineties. And SkankySkanky\s 
badly produced and messy. The vocal 
line-up consists of a bunch of barely-known 
MCs with obligatory guest slots to make 
it look kind of 'now' (cf Tinchy Stryder). 
The album's even got a tune with a 
cliched, Ram-style drum'n'bass break 
and crap 'biddybiddybyebye' rhymes, 
Toddla talking all over it in his Sheffield 
twang like he's at home making it on 
a cassette player. 

Except that, from plastic house 
to ranting inanely about playing at 
shit parties, SkankySkanky captures 
better than anything 'new' what it's 
like being a raver in the UK right now: 
stupid, tired and skint, but sometimes 
still euphoric. 

Songs transcend hype ragga and 
plateau into the one and only Benjamin 
Zephaniah, poeticising dreamily about 
love and levitation; then, they cut to 
Toddla again, this time banging on about 
not being able to sleep and Roots Manuva 
and a bunch of girls going dutty and 
manic about the credit crunch ( "there's 
no more cheap money! "). So actually, it's 
definitely the best LP and the best thing 
in rave so far this year. 
Melissa Bradshaw 

Trembling Bells 

Carbeth (Honest Jon's) 

First off, a revelation: despite his immaculate 
talent and tenure (Jandek, Scatter, Bonnie 
'Prince' Billy), rhythm alchemist and improv 
overlord Alex Neilson has long forgone 
the lure of songwriting, augmenting the 
art of others instead. Until now, that is. It's 
worth the wait. Braiding and acculturating 
the doctrines of Dylan, rockabilly, doo wop 
and Rimbaud -and recently emerging (still 
fresh-faced) from a seven-year infatuation 
with the British folk idiom - Neilson's 
vintage muse imbues agrarian fantasia, 
urban mythology and timeless anthropoid 
deadlock. Its folklore enfolds the Campsie 
Fells and Glasgow locales, and stars, 
and hope. His fellow Trembling Bells, 
meanwhile, invoke musics from the 
mediaeval to alt-country, from traditional 
folk to classic rock- as gloriously evinced 
on 'ITookToYou (Like Christ To Wood)', 
'When I Was Young' and 'Willows Of 
Carbeth'. Lavinia Blackwall (Directing Hand) 
possesses an utterly spellbinding larynx, 
while guitarist Ben Reynolds (Motor Ghost) 
and bassist Simon Shaw (Lucky Luke) 
further embellish the ever-intriguing 
Neilson's excellent song-based debut. 
Nicola Meighan 

Thomas Truax 

Songs From The Films Of David Lynch 
(Psycho Teddy/SL) 

Doing as it says on the blue velvet (natch) 
box, the inventor/troubadour lovingly 
applies hisWilliam Heath Robinson 
contraptions and some 'real' instruments 
to the oeuvre of another dream-lounge 
habitue. 'Wicked Game' and 'In Dreams' 
are underpinned byjunkyard percussion 
and, while ourThomas is no Orbison or 
Isaac in the vocal stakes, these are cool 
arrangements - and it's fitting that his 
croon bears similarities to that of sometime 
Lynch collaborator Barry Adamson. 

Less appealing is the reconfiguring of 
the wondrous Twin Peaks coda, 'Falling'; 
Truax kicks it uptempo into throwaway 
bossa-pop and nudges the enterprise 
uncomfortably close to Mike Flowers kitsch 
territory. The most radical makeovers are 
the most successful; Bowie's 'I'm Deranged' 
is stripped of the skittering breakbeats 
and ominous bass which heralded Lost 
Highway's opening credits to be recast as 
a swooning Mexicana lament. And the 
bashed glockenspiel reading of 'In Heaven' - 
Eraserheads Lady In The Radiator song -is 
better than the Pixies' version, if lacking the 
skin-crawling unease of Lynch's original. 
James Papademetrie 

under my stylus: parts and labo 


Worldwild (Brah) 
"This awesomely joyous, 
I happily haunted record 
jt ■ '■■■•o was a soundtrack to much 

Pfll : B B fl 5TUlf of my winter. Worldwild 

LUCRLrJllJUjI sounds like rapturous nine-year-olds doing big 
vocal harmonies over spiralling noise. There are lots of great Animal 
Collective-esque hymns to be had here, but what these guys do that 
nobody else can is make those vocals sound completely at home over 
guitar from some parallel Sonic Youth/Unwound universe. You 
definitely have to listen all the way through to get the whole 
spectrum of this beast. Be patient. It'll payoff." 
(Dan Friel) 

plan b 1 75 

brief notes 

il^JVi i ^j l 1 ! Bachelorette 
I My Electric Family 
I V 'J (Drag City) 

' *"'\ •"""'" I New Zealand native 

AJI -"'". J Annabel Alpers layers 
^^^^^^^^ several versions 
of her own vocals to form one thick, 
rainbow-coloured voice; its harmonies 
are a cool blue, while its rising motifs are 
a vibrant, welcoming amber-orange. On this, 
her second LP, she is by turns demure ('Long 
Time Gone') and brave ('The National Grid'), 
bolstering her determination with handclaps, 
grumbling drones and Casiotone hums. 

Joe Budden 

Padded Room 
(Amalgam Digital) 

Thank grud Budden 
got dropped by Def 
Jam, 'cos you can 
be sure they'd have pushed for more 
dreck like lead single 'The Future' and 
less bloodshot beauty like. . .well, most 
everything else here, but especially the dazed 
confession of'l Couldn't Help It'. "We had 
a beautiful relationship atone point, then 
that shit changed with the quickness ", 
he ponders; "Maybe it was because I was 
fucking other bitches". Indeed. (RS) 


You Lost Me At Hello 
^ (Rune Grammofon) 

Another healthy dose 
of Scandinavian jazz/ 
improvfrom the reliable Rune Grammofon. 
Bushman's Revenge are three young lads on 
guitar, bass and drums who drop the usual 
overused names of Black Sabbath and Albert 
Ayler but manage to transcend influences 
with an overheated, paint-peeling onslaught 
of their own. (EA) 

Capillary Action 

So Embarrassing 

Far more punishing 
and concise than 
Capillary Action's live 
show, So Embarrassing is accomplished, 
eclectic and massively theatrical. Like 
a. P.A.t.T but without the chemical ingestion, 
they spin from Fifties showtunes to hardcore 
death-rattle within seconds. (HA) 

The Do 

A Mouthful 
(Get Down!) 

The Do are French man, 
Daniel Levy, and Finnish 
singer, Olivia Merilahti, 
and their debut record, A Mouthful, is gentle 
and melodic, evoking memories of mild 
sunburn that looks bad but feels kinda nice. 
Also: punnets of strawberries, floaty skirts 
and hayfever. (TH) 


(Raffle Bat) 

Fanfarlo's debut LP 
is blessed with a 
winning romanticism. 
'The Walls Are Coming Down' is an 
incandescent tumble of horns, strings 
and glockenspiel that could melt the iciest 
of hearts. (JS) 




Entertainment (Lo) 

Given that 
originally wanted 
to give their high 
watermark for electroclash, #7, the 
alternative title of Best Album Ever, 
it's a miracle they've turned out this 
tasteful. Entertainmentbangs like 
LCD-lite, and is hampered only by its 
adherence to the poppy structures 
that Casey Spooner's singing demands. 
Set free, these songs would be deft 
dance monsters. (TG) 


Wavering Radiant 

In which Isis gamely 
try to escape the 
immense gravity 
of their slow-burn-epic, gloomy 
post-metal by means of some epic, 
gloomy post-metal that's increasingly 
amorphous and not quite so slow-burny. 
Although arguably slightly bolderthan 
the remarkably unremarkable In the 
Absence of Tunes- sony, Truth- Wavering 
Radiant, alas, offers neither refinement 
nor revolution. (ME) 

Ivan Ives 


rapper Ivan Ives aims, 
with crucial support 
from the likes of Percee P and Black Milk, 
to keep it popping off "like Rachmaninoff". 
That he occasionally manages to do so 
while looking the spit of Matthew 
Friedberger is just a bonus. (RPS) 

Jono El Grande 

Neo Dada (Rune 

Mischievous composer 
Jono El Grande 
commences his third 
album with a flatulent blast of sax reed 
(courtesy of Erik Lokra), his own histrionic, 
lion-tamer vocals and a flurry of comedic, 
arachnid xylophones; and the rest of 
Neo Grande continues this crazy-paving 
trajectory in much the same, scatterbrained 
way. 'Ballet Morbido In A Dozen Tiny 
Movements' is an itchy, scratchy 
waggledance and 'Your Mother Eats Like 
A Platipus' is a ducking, diving dervish 
for neurotic strings. Totally nuts, and, 
therefore, another triumph for Norwegian 
label Rune Grammofon. (LS) 


Then I Saw 
Summer And Sun 
On The Earth (Little 
Red Rabbit) 

This beautifully 
presented debut LP from a Norwegian 
brother-sister duo sees the traditional 
folk melodies of their homeland wrestled 
into new, rough-hewn arrangements. 
The Nyhuus pair imbue their readings 
with irrepressible sincerity, and Then I 
Saw Summer... is a pleasing addition to 
the slowly-growing roster of careful, 
thoughtful Manchester-based label Little 
Red Rabbit.(JS) 

t Kleerup (EMI) 

r- 'M Kleerup (of Robyn's 
A/^\M 'With Every Heartbeat' 
^^^P^^^^ fame) provides a 
^^^■^^^^ glorious insight 
into Sweden's dance-pop scene. Titiyo 
(Neneh and Eagle Eye's sister) brings 
electro bliss, Lykke Li is suitably angled 
and Marit Bergman turns drones 
into symphonies. This record is warm, 
yet sharp. (J F) 

Cass McCombs 

Catacombs (Domino) 

The media-shy 
songwriter returns 
with another clutch 
of deeply personal 
yet abstract paeans. McCombs' folk 
is straightforward and requires little 
explanation; as with last album, 
Dropping The Writ, his nature is tender 
and charming. (LW) 

Morton Valence 

Bob And Veronica 
Ride Again (Bastard 

Morton Valence 
make music both 
euphoric and detached from the chaos 
described; they poetically romanticise 
harsh, gritty violence. 'Chandelier' is a 
ballad, a fine ballad, as though Elton 
John and Kiki Dee were Romeo and Juliet. 
Music to swoon to. (JF) 

Conor Oberst 
And The Mystic 
Valley Band 

Outer South 

"In January 2008, 
Conor Oberst went to Mexico, and 
accidentally formed a band..." states the 
trailer to a new documentary charting the 
natural formation of Oberst 's Mystic Valley 
Band. While some may proclaim this 'dad 
rock', there's no Grammy hunting here. This 
is purely the sound of five musicians having 
the time of their lives. (PP) 

Our Brother The 

Sacred Psalms 

Our BrotherThe Native 
remain as resolutely 
amorphous here as on their debut, immersed 
further in the campfire rituals explored by 
a young Animal Collective and now with 
abundant -though judicious -Middle 
Eastern, African and Javanese samples. 
Sufi devotionals, unspecified drones, banjos 
and sheet metal gamelan augmentthe 
fevered vocals. (JP) 

Pagan Wanderer 

Fight My Battles 
For Me (Brainlove) 

Andy Regan's twee 
songs are packed 
full of frivolous gibberish, his childlike 
whimsies creating a playful, artsy aesthetic 
nurtured by SNES and Megadrive memory 
fragments. At an hour's length, this album 
flags toward its end; but think of it 
as a magnum opus. (DL) 

Miles Benjamin 



Miles Benjamin 
Anthony Robinson 

Factfinders may be interested to know 
that this Oregon-born 26-year-old's debut 
album was recorded at Yellow House - 
yeah, that yellow house - with Grizzly Bear's 
ChrisTaylor (on drums) and Daniel Rossen 
(manning the overdubs alongsideTV On 
The Radio's Kyp Malone). Seems Robinson's 
elicited the support of friends in high places, 
and maybe there's a good reason why; his 
stocky, soulful songwriting is aglow with 
space and celebration; openers 'Buriedfed' 
and 'The Debtor' are big-lunged, brave- 
bellied campfire belters that become more 
swoonsome with time. Persist. (LS) 

O Sleepy Sun 
Embrace (ATP) 
West coast sextet 
youthful enough to 
view both the Sixties 
WH- \-t- -*h andshoegazeas 
mythic eras set their pedals to 'bum trip'. 
This is a satisfyingly viscous stew of 
lava-fuzz wah-wah and doomy Sabbath 
bass riffs, punctuated by bucolic boy-girl 
strums under the looming shadow of 
Black Mountain. (AB) 



Richard Swift 

The Atlantic Ocean 
(Secretly Canadian) 

Chunky, chirpy writing 
from pop-maker/ 
producer Swift, 
who seems to turn his hand to a different 
structure and style with every release. Plucky 
pianos jangle away as Swift clearly revels in 
the simple, pure pleasure of bashing sounds 
out of good quality instruments (much of this 
was recorded in The Wi Ico Loft, a vast space 
crammed with musicians' most-desired 
swag). It's summery, chilled; but yeah, a 
little too perky to soundtrack anything more 
complex than a sunny breakfast. (LS) 

TJ Arrivals (Gizeh) 

Gavin Miller have 
long been persuading 
mournful, astonishingly human sounds 
from their laptops and guitars, clearly 
nodding to their many influences 
(Trentemoller, Sigur Ros, Olafur Arnalds) 
but always staking a strong claim to 
something very much their own. The debut 
full-length from this Leeds pair follows 
accomplished EPs and is a sumptuous, 
immersive piece, populated with lonely 
clicks, earthly organs and stirring, synthetic 
strings. Infrequently, a voice appears; 
disembodied, quietly squalling, it is 
not quite of our world - much like 
worriedaboutsatan themselves, in fact. (LS) 

Brief notes by Euan Andrews, 
Hayley Avron, Abi Bliss, Matt 
Evans, Jonathan Falcone, 
Thorn Gibbs,Tom Howard, 
Darren Loucaides, James 
Papademetrie, Peter Piper, 
James Skinner, Lauren Strain, 
Ringo P Stacey, Liv Willars 

76 1 plan b 


A Bugged Out! Mix By Hot Chip 
(New State) 

So the last time I 'went out', I actually had 
to be one of the DJs, and I realised, my 
God, I'm not really into this clubbing thing 
anymore. It's fortunate, then, that Hot Chip 
counterthe relentless chug-chuggery of this 
mix's first disc (Theo Parish and John Tejada 
all chiselled and OWCH) with a collection 
of balmy recovery songs on the second. Their 
reworking of Gang Gang Dance's 'House 
Jam' removes the original's fuschia thirst, 
sieving it down to the kind of bare-boned 
neuroticism that's ail-too reminiscent of 
the morning after; and their soft-palmed 
handling of The Pictish Trail's 'Winter Home 
Disco' produces a calm, bluish paste. 
Lauren Strain 

Milky Disco II: Let's Go Freak Out (Lo) 

The trouble with Nu Disco -or 'cosmic 
disco', as some would have it - is that 
it can veer dangerously close to new-age 
territory. It's at its best when underpinned 
by something dark and brooding -and so it 
goes with the second in Lo recordings' series 
of Milky Disco compilations. The best tracks 
on this 2CD set have something of the night 
about them, whether that be found in the 
haunting vocals of Pollyester's 'You Are 
Amen', the death disco and suicidal 
tendencies of 'The Chameleon' by Glass 
Candy or CFCF's epic 'Raining Patterns'. 
Where many tracks here are a little too 
relaxed, these pack the necessary menace 
to burst the ambient bubble. 
Stuart Aitken 

No Pain In Pop (No Pain In Pop) 

It must be hard work, releasing records, 
blogging religiously, putting on shows -all 
at once, mind, and with a skeleton crew - 
but that's just what London's No Pain In 
Pop have been up to. Here, they honour their 
last 1 2 months with a compilation. Delicate 
waves of noise are shattered intermittently 
by Abe Vigoda's head-spinning 'Dead City/ 
Waste Wilderness' and Ponytail's riotous, 
sunny spazz-attack 'Beg Waves'. But this 
record isn't about these guys so much as 
bands you've maybe missed out on. Like Nite 
Jewel, and her sexier-than-thou 'Weak 4 
Me', or the underwater drone-pop of PENS' 
'Networking'. Or 'Ride Symbols' by Animal 
Collective wannabes Gentle Friendly, an 
anthem for the space age that showers you 
with enough sass and Stardust to burn your 
clothes off in a flash. 
Darren Loucaides 

Optimo Presents: In OrderTo Edit 

Combine dance music and Belgium - Ghent 
to be specific - and the younger among 
you could be forgiven for thinking first of 
pummeling electro-rock remix powerhouse 
Soulwax aka 2 Many DJs. Said city, however, 
made an undeniably more influential 
donation to the world of electronic music via 
RenaatVandepapeliere and Sabine Maes' 
R&S label, launched in 1 984 and temporary 
home to solid-gold techno pioneers such 
as AphexTwin, Joey Beltram, Model 500, 
Derrick May and CJ Bolland.Telling that story 
with skill, conviction and obvious affection 
are DJ duo Optimo aka JDTwitch and JG 

Wilkes, a Glasgow-based duo whose recent 
mix projects have taken in psychedelic rock/ 
acid house {Psyche Out), minimal/abstract 
techno (Walkabout) and ambient/world/ 
who-knows-what (Sleepwalk). The pair 
have siphoned edited two decades of R&S 
dancefloor history into what is a fine primer 
for new converts and a satisfying recap for 
those who were there - an inspirational 
history lesson with maximum NRG and zero 
misplaced reverential restraint. 
Jamie Kingett 

Venetian Snares 

Filth (Planet Mu) 

Venetian Snares seems to be comfortably 
slotted - and this isn't empirically a bad 
thing - in a cyclical pattern of releases. 
He puts out a record that's pretty much 
interchangeable with the last one; then, 
when loads of people point this out in an 
eye-rolling kind of way, he turns his own 
game on its head and unleashes something 
ambient or mournfully orchestral - or 
a collection of dubstep remixes of Black 
Sabbath songs. Filth \s halfway toward being 
radically separate from his plentiful back 
catalogue, halfway from being a thematic 
tweak on the same-old, same-old. It's as 
manically busy and deliberately rude as any 
of his mildly seminal, breakcore-cementing 
Planet Mu releases from the early part of 
the century; but Filth has a foundation of 
blistering, 303-powered acid rave which, 
as well as placing him in the Planet Mu 
slipstream behind similarly squelchy 
labelmates Syntheme andThe Doubtful 
Guest, leaves Snares sounding a lot more like 
olde tyme Squarepusher than ever before. 
Noel Gardner 

Wooden Shjips 

Dos (Holy Mountain) 

It begins with the steaming krautpunk 
groove of 'Motorbike' and we're thinking 
damn, hell, yeah! If we crankthis up loud 
enough, we'll be greasily rollin' down lost 
highways on silver machines (to freak-out 
scenes deep inside our minds). But, following 
that four-minute joyride through psychedelic 
sludge, the law of diminishing returns begins 
to take its toll -and a pall of stoner fog falls 
over this San Francisco quartet's second 
album. Admittedly, the electrical storm of 
'Down By The Sea' probably sounds fantastic 
at 3am over a club PA; but the lumpen Neu ! 
pastiche of Tallin" sees the night-time happy 
pills wearing off. The dawn is grey, sobering. 
Euan Andrews 

Y Diwygiad 

Hymn 808 (Dockrad) 

At their authoritative best, bilingual Welsh 
duo Y Diwygiad sum up everything so 
gloriously wrong about hip-hop. Opening 
with the fossilised stiffness of a choral loop, 
Mr Phormula declares that "hip-hop's taking 
over from male voice choirs " as the action 
shifts to the jaunty echoes of an agitated 
piccolo, a sea shanty with the promise 
"we'll never lea ve you stranded "and 
some pained - ecstatic? - screams for good 
measure. It's not just the presence of outer- 
limits visionaries Daedelus and Lews Tewns 
that make sure of the promise, though. It's 
the thumping electro magpie attitude. Most 
times, the only true hip-hop is that which 
looks to the future; perhaps that which 
ceases to be hip-hop at all. 
Ringo P Stacey 





CD /LP /Download CD / LP / Download 














loaf: ^s 

plan b 1 77 

the true report 

Words: Everett True 
Illustration: Anke Weckmann 

Grrrl-style revolution, past, present... 
and future 

Various: Teenage:The Creation Of Youth 191 1-1946 (Trikont) 
The Vaselines: Enter The Vaselines (Sub Pop) 
Hello Cuca: Esplendor En La Arena (Rompepistas) 

rebellion long enough and they might 
start demanding the real thing. 

Teenage is a major delight - a 
collection of politically-tuned and 
zeitgeist-catching swing and big band 
numbers from such dancehall legends as 
Mildred Bailey, Louis Jordan, Chick Webb 
and Ol' Blue Eyes himself, buzzing with 
such antiquated phrases as the Zoot Suit 
(banned in LA in June 1943 as a "badge 
of hooliganism" because it was the 
preferred choice of the Mexican 
American), the jitterbug (a swing dance 
craze with its origins in the 1 929 Crash) 
and any amount of stomps, boogies 
and hops. Astonishingly, the standout 
is a song that didn't merit an original 

It's all about Olympia, WA. 

Riot grrrl couldn't have happened without 
'the teenager', that peculiarly American concept 
invented some time around 1 944 with the advent of 
Frank Sinatra, bobbysoxers (female) and Seventeen 
magazine (female). You can hear the exact moment 
the cracks refused to be papered over, halfway 
through this ravishing, Jon Savage-helmed, 26-track 
Trikont compilation, on Judy Garland's petulant 
'In-Between' (1 939). "I'm too old for toys/And too 
young for boys, " she wails, Jodie Foster five decades 
early. "/ can 't do this/I can 'tgo there/I'm just 
a circle in a square. " Two weeks after Garland 
recorded the song she travelled to NYC for the 
premiere of The Wizard Of Oz and caused a riot, 
Grand Central Station swamped by 1 0,000 fans. 

Sure, the teenager may have been invented 
by Madison Avenue, but it was through financial 
necessity -these kids had disposable income! The 
ad man's creation rapidly spiralled out of control, 
post-war, with the homogenisation of black culture 
known as rock'n'roll and as America began to 
believe the lies it had been putting around about 
the 'free world'. Teenage empowerment followed, 
even female (eventually). Feed people the illusion of 

Spirited garage 
stomps and fiery 
punk polemic 

release - Judy Garland (and crew)'s famous 'lost' 
number from The Wizard Of Oz, 'The Jitterbug'; 
feverish, nervy and littered with voodoo references 
(which presumably caused the number's early exit, 
but only after $80,000 had beenspentfilming it). 

The Vaselines (or The Pastels Family, as I prefer 
to call them) pre-dated riot grrrl by a few years, but 
were a massive influence - not least because they 
sexed up that refined brand of (hitherto sexless) 
British alternative guitar pop known as 'C86', 
straddled the divide between classic (Velvets/Pastels) 
songwriting and abject amateurism and gave 
a certain Mr Cobain a template for happiness. 
Man, they were cheeky, sexy, great. 

The 36-track double CD/triple LP set Enter The 
Vaselines provides you with all you could possibly 
want from a group who only released two EPs and 

one album in their brief lifetime - Divine covers set 
to a cheap drum machine, David Keegan (Shop 
Assistants) guitar solos, demos that sound like 
Sarah Records' dream releases, terrible Glitter Band 
covers, concerts in Bristol in 1 986 where I can hear 
myself heckling. Sure, they might've pushed at the 
boundaries of taste a little creakingly, but it's a rare 
indie fan who can hear Frances meowing her way 
through 'Monsterpussy' without shivering inside. 
There are three versions of 'The Day I Was A Horse', 
the second of which (recorded live in London in 
1 988) had me howling with laughter the first time 
I heard it, especially when it segued straight into 
the third version. Christ, The Vaselines could be 
rubbish - but so endearingly! 

Hello Cuca wouldn't have existed without riot 
grrrl-a quickglanceattheirtop MySpace friends 
shows their allegiances: Tobi Vail (Bikini Kill), Ana de 
Silva and Gina Birch (The Raincoats), New Bloods, 
Wet Dog, Erase Errata. . . indeed, this Spanish 
girl-pop trio came across riot grrrl by reading about 
it in zines, and were often disappointed when they 
finally heard the music because their imaginations 
had led them further. That's the best kind of 
DIY - where you've been inspired by someone's 
attitude, but not slavishly followed the sound. 
This 33-track collection of spirited garage stomps 
and fiery punk polemic - covering 1 2 years, and 
presented in reverse order so you get the newest 
and best first- is superb, June Brides lifts, 
Go-Betweens steals, Sleater-Kinney swipes, 
everything. Moments from the 2006 split LP 
between Hello Cuca and friends Incrucificables 
are like a dream version of The Fabulous Stains 
performed by early Go-Go's, 'Oh, Luba' kicks garage 
ass in a way rarely heard since Ann-Margret in 1 961 , 
there are touches of Buzzcocks and Kleenex. . . 

Ah, fuck it all. I'm making this sound like it's a 
rigorous amalgam of its components and it's so not: 
indeed, Hello Cuca most often sound like no one 
so much as themselves. I need to quit referencing 
music. Projection and memory play tricks, and all 
I know with any certainty is that Hello Cuca sound 
pure inspiration, pure fun. 

78 1 plan b 


Animal Collective 

Sung Tongs (FatCat) 
Feels (FatCat) 

Wonderful ! They arrive on Record Store 
Day. Each 1 2-inch platter, heavy like a discus 
on sports day. Vacuum-packed into dust 
sleeves by static. A vermicelli trail of onyx 
vinyl to be rubbed from the surface before 
play. The artwork, especially for Feels, is 
absorbing. Like the foot square of wallpaper 
that was closest to your head when you were 
a child in bed. These albums are part of 
a rearguard action by smaller labels against 
downloaders who would see them close, 
although the fetishisation of vinyl -forthe 
sonic and tactile qualities it holds over MP3 - 
has come too late for the likes of Touch 
And Go. 

Later, at Rough Trade, I miss out on 
the Jesus Lizard box set but buy both Sonic 
Youth seven-inches. Outside, in the sunshine, 
Sung Tongs is given away to a friend who 
will appreciate its folky sparseness more 
than me, but Feels\s 100% a keeper. This 
is a communal trade of ideas and culture not 
in thrall to the chattering class concepts of 
money and art that are as thin as the quality 
of a stolen MP3. 
John Doran 

Neil Ardley 

Harmony Of The Spheres (Eclectic 

Now 30 years old, Neil Ardley's Harmony 
Of The Spheres is a fairly obscure entry in 
a fairly obscure genre, that of British jazz 
fusion. Those unfamiliar and perhaps 
a little offput by the images those three 
little words evoke should be a) ashamed 
of their timidity and b) reassured by the 
presence of the late John Martyn, whose 
Echoplex guitar adds light and texture 
to what is already a highly involving, richly 
melodic music. 

Ardley's intention was to transcribe 
and interpret the fabled 'music of the 
spheres' and, fittingly enough, all seven 
compositions are imbued with a sense 
of Saganesque wonder, assisted in no 
small part by Ardley's careful blending 
of synthesizers and acoustic instruments. 
The incorporation of woodwind in particular 
lends a distinctly British pastoral flavour 
to proceedings, thereby modelling an 
accomplished and convincing - perhaps 
even superior- alternative to the Stateside 
fusion of Weather Report et al. 
Joseph Stannard 


Confederacy Of Ruined Lives 

Earlier this week at work, I fielded a 
complaint from this shrieking Helen Lovejoy 
of an idiot, convinced (on deeplytenuous 
grounds) that I was indirectly responsible 
for implying, in print, that heroin addiction 
could render an artist's work and public 
persona more interesting. If she sees this, 
they'll have to start drilling for untapped 
green ink reserves, for I put it to you that 
New Orleans sludge brethren Eyehategod 
would have been decidedly less car crash- 
captivating if their number- especially 
frontman Mike Williams -had kept 
themselves non-opiated for the duration 
of their career. 

It would probably also have meant 
less total write-off shows and some 
people not doing very inadvisable things 

to their bodies, but this conglomerate 
of word-salad nihilism and downtuned 
to death crypto-doom riffing has been 
the sound of smack for tons of metal kids 
too damn sensible to try it. 

This album (from 2000, and their 
last studio effort) isn't even one of their 
nastier ones, but it still CHURNS. 
Noel Gardner 

Iron And Wine 

Around The Well (Sub Pop) 

A collection of B-sides, rarities and 
previously unreleased tracks, this double 
disc release presents the gentle extremes 
of Sam Beam's mostly one-man band. 
The first disc provides a mix of sweet, 
quiet home recordings; it's the soundtrack 
to a long interstate journey on a 
Greyhound bus. 

The second comprises a selection 
of tracks recorded with the help of studios, 
engineers and other musicians. More 
energetic than the collection's first half, 
it contains fan favourite 'The Trapeze 
Swinger', written for the 2004 film In Good 
Company. Beam's output has always been 
well-respected and it appears that even cuts 
from the shelves of his forgotten vaults are 
worthy of the same. 
Alexis Somerville 

Tommy James And The 

Crimson And Clover (Rev-Ola) 
Cellophane Symphony (Rev-Ola) 

I wouldn't have expected pop journeyman 
turned psych hitmakerTommy James to 
record another song like 'Crimson And 
Clover' - a track which, over-played, and 
much-covered, still makes my heart burst 
whenever I hear the over-tremoloed outro - 
and he didn't, at least not on either of these 
1 969 albums, no doubt rushed out to cash 
in on the success of 'Crimson . . . '. Yet both 
releases transcend curio status, if only to 
illustrate the odd relationship that existed 
at the time between the old pop and the 
new rock just around the corner. 

On Crimson And Clover, James sounds 
most comfortable with the soulful pop he cut 
his teeth on: 'Crystal Blue Persuasion' has 
peace'n'love lyrics, but is set to Motown 
grooves, as is the Carole King-ish 'Sugar 
On Sunday'. But baroque ballads and the 
assertion that 'I'm ATangerine' shows 
James to have been paying attention to his 
British chums- Pink Floyd, Giles, Giles And 
Fripp - and follow-up Cellophane Symphony 
opens with a 10-minute Moog-twiddler 
straight off Saucerful Of Secrets. Hopes of 
a secret pre-prog classic are not quite dashed 
by the rest of the album, but su b-Sgt Pepper 
'funny' numbers are even less funny when 
Americans do them, which doesn't stop 
James attempting a few. Skip to 'Evergreen' 
- a ballad worthy of Buffalo Springfield - 
and 'Changes', which flavours its drifting 
psych-jazz rhythms with a synth solo 
or several. 
Frances Morgan 

Red Red Meat 

Bunny Gets Paid (Sub Pop) 

In which Sub Pop exhume their post-grunge, 
pre-Shins fodder of little fixed demographic, 
and kudos to them, as Chicago sad-bloozers 
Red Red Meat are back in the racks. It's a 
fine line that Red Red Meat walk on this 
third album, now in an age when an axe- 

swinging take on classic rock and country is 
represented by thousands of barely-descript 
twangy indie-rock bands. Sometimes, they 
distinguish themselves by being more axe- 
swinging, while often they're aided by a 
sonically creative use of space; its gloom 
is palpable, but less of a foundation than 
on, say, the Low or Palace albums from 
around the same time.This reissue comes 
with a second disc of demos, remixes and 
a cover of A Flock Of Seagulls' 'Wishing', 
which you might have only expected 
a nu-metal band to have the brass neck 
to attempt. 
Noel Gardner 


Time Flies/Rats (Bluurg) 
Worlds Apart (Bluurg) 
29:29 Split Vision (Bluurg) 

You know Blue Banana, that goth-not-goth 
high street shop? I once saw a bag in there 
with a logo on it that ripped off that of first- 
wave anarcho punk 'erberts Subhumans. 
This has not appeared to bolster the band's 
profile among Britain's sulkier youth, but 
perhaps these four remastered reissues 
will help. Very, very slightly. 

EP-LPcomp\\es 1 8 shrill, swift tracks 
from four seven-inches released across 
1 8 months - the first three of which precede 
their momentous and recently reissued 
debut album, The Day The Country Died. 
A couple of 1 2-inch EPs from 1 983 and 
1 984 — 'Time Flies ButAeroplanes Crash' 
and 'Rats' -find the tempo notably slowed, 
'Susan' providing the band's Ian Dury-with- 
clinical-depression moment. Worlds Apart 
has honest-to-goodness wiggy guitar 
solos wedged between increasingly less 
anthemic sloganeering, while 29:29 
Split Vision has dub influences (anticipating 
singer Dick Lucas' imminent post-split 
band Culture Shock) and suggests that 
Subhumans had, for the time, run their 
course as a vital force. 
Noel Gardner 

Archive Volume VI (B1 2) 

Almost 20 years since its inception, UK 
electronic outfit/label B1 2 still retains its 
air of mystery. Originally mistaken for 
Detroit residents due to their elegant 
techno-futurism, Mike Golding and 
Steve Rutter continued their reclusive 
existence before disappearing in 1 996 
and reappearing just as unexpectedly 
two years ago to remaster and rerelease 
the B1 2 back catalogue. A generation 
of technophiles gasped with delight, 
and will continue to gasp through this 
sixth edition of rare, unreleased and 
captivating early electronic road-maps. 
Their work is sometimes overwhelmingly 
luxurious, but it always retains the grace 
and composure that has won them 
breathless plaudits from collectors 
and fans. Huge washes of synth ebb 
and flow between scattered drum 
machine patterns; they're grand, clear 
and, at times, pastoral. The time for re- 
appraisal is now. 
Jamie Kingett 

Tectonic Plates Volume II (Tectonic) 

It's unclear why people write all these 
analyses of 'Where dubstep can go now' 

because as a whole, it hit the overall phase 
in about 2006/7. Pinch's label Tectonic was 
always the source of some of the darkest, 
sparsest spins on the genre.This is the 
second of theTectonic compilations, both 
of which are pretty much the only place you 
can get hold of most of these tracks once 
the vinyl has gone. On the first, there were 
seminal tracks like Pinch's own 'Qawwali', 
and Loefah's 'System'. As the genre began 
to travel in dubious directions (Pendulum 
anyone?), Pinch kept quietly pushing some 
of the most interesting artists around him. 
From Martyn and 2562's slinky minimalism 
to Joker's computer-game lullabies and 
Skream in two very different modes, the 
result is that of an understatedly fascinating 
back catalogue showcasing some of the 
furthest-thinking things people continuing 
to be associated with - if not exactly making 
-dubstep have created. 
Melissa Bradshaw 

Volcano Suns 

The Bright Orange Years (Merge) 
Ail-Night Lotus Party (Merge) 

Peter Prescott is a noisy man. The generally 
smirking (but clearly pissed off) drummer 
formed Volcano Suns afterthe initial 
demise of Mission Of Burma in 1 983, 
and this is, shamefully, the first time their 
earliest albums have reached CD. Both 
The Bright Orange Kear5(1985)and/1//- 
Night Lotus Party{\ 986) are exultantly 
exhausting to listen to, and both snare 
you with deceptively agreeable melodic 
rockers. "Jack of all trades and a master 
of none/How can a person get anything 
done?" laments Prescott on 'Jak', which 
leads The Bright Orange Years brilliantly 
but reveals little about the maelstrom of 
sweaty, uncomfortably direct scraping 
and hollering which then follows. 

All-Night Lotus Part/ratchets up 
the intensity, yelled vocals sounding like 
they were recorded with the band swaying 
around drunk, arms around each others' 
shoulders.The bluster of 'Blown Stack' is 
like an unmuzzled Husker Du. Prescott's 
skilfully primitive drumming dominates, 
mixed wonderfully loudly. Combined with 
fierce guitars and bass, it provides wantonly 
rambunctious fun. 
Thorn Gibbs 


Germ Free Adolescents (Sanctuary) 

A few hundred miles away, scores of G20 
protesters rage, luminous. Afew centimetres 
away, the speakers blast out Poly Styrene's 
thesis on consumer culture: "I wanna be 
a frozen pea/I wanna be dehydrated/In 
our consumer society! "I think back 
to the sheer depth of emotional horror 
that confronted me the day I thought 
my husband had lost my vinyl copy of 
Germ Free AdolescentsMth a mouth 
full of mettle, Poly succinctly encapsulated 
pretty much every teen dilemma faced 
by girls more interested in music and 
art than exams or lipgloss. Sex, posers, 
the dumbing down of the first real TV 
generation -they're all here, and they're 
all soundtracked by Jak Airport's guitars, 
the tv/Vafesf this side of Perrett's Only 
Ones and Rudi Thomson's distinctive 
sax.The Peel Sessions included are 
a highlight, throwing Poly's cracked 
young vocals into relief. 

plan b | 79 


a friend such as yourself 

Words: Matilda Tristam 

Taking life one day at a time: 
the diary comics of James Nash 



tOOk ft 
*t Wtti 

t* err a 

It's almost impossible not to gorge oneself on 
a whole year's worth of James Nash's diary comic 
in a single sitting. In 2008's Its Nice To Have A Friend 
Such As Yourself and the new The Present Is Not A 
Purgatory, moments from the last two years of his 
life are abbreviated in three simple black and white 
ink drawings. Equal parts joyful glee, frustration and 
depression, it's all about navigating existence, and 
knowing how comforting and important those tiny 
forgettable instances can be. 

What is your comic about? 

"Thus far it has been about me finishing uni, 
moving home, helping care for my dad after he had 
a stroke, unfortunate relationship things, failures, 
friends, family, some more heartbreak, unattractive 
misanthropy, and the apathy that develops as these 

'I'm not trying to 
create a character that 
I can hide behind' 

things build up. ..I'm not really selling itam I?" 

No, but what makes yours so hugely 
different from lots of other diary comics full of 
misanthropic, self-obsessed whinging is how 
funny you manage to make it. Also, there is a 
certain dignity to it, even when you draw the 
lowest or most difficult moments in your life... 
"There certainly are a few things I've seen where 
that is accurate. Loads of early-twenties middle- 
class egomaniacs around. But 'self important' 
seems a bit of a weird way to think about some 
of the people whose work I really like, people like 
Gabrielle Bell or Vanessa Davies or Ron Rege Jr. " 
My favourite entries are ones describing 
peripheral, ordinary instances, they sum up 
so much, by saying very little. do you 
decide what to put in? 

80 1 plan b 



06/ It 

"I think what sustains my interest in drawing 
it is that some days you have three panels in which 
to push a million things, and other days you are 
stretching absolutely nothing over the same space. 
But these are equally important entries. I think 
nothing isjustas good as something." 

There's a bit when you and a girlfriend get 
pelted with tennis balls while you're trying 
to be romantic in the park. It's so touching and 
funny and seems to stand for all the things that 
get in the way or ruin things. ..wait, this is not 
a question... 

" Haha, well I suppose the world creates its own 
metaphors and ironies on occasion." 

I am also always impressed by what you 
leave out - it's very candid, but you don't ever 
feel that you're exploiting people. 

"One of my top hated things to see in a comic 
is a penis and you can't open one recently without 
seeing some ridiculous drawing of a massive veiny 
dick or something. I'm not a prude, but I just don't 
want to know. It's a taste thing. Plus, I'm a gent. " 

What do you think about the position 
of an autobiographical comic artist/writer like 
Robert Crumb, who depicts himself so cruelly 
so as to be in a position where he can criticise 
or say anything he wants about anything? Do 
think about how you depict yourself or how 
you come across in your comic? 

" I don't at all, I'm not trying to create a character 
that I can hide behind." 

When I make comics it feels like a way of 
sorting out sad, bad, difficult, or boring things 
and making them funny, surreal or interesting, 
as a way of remembering differently. Why do 
you love comics? They take so long, and it's not 
something we'll become filthy rich from... 

"I definitely use it in the same way. Sometimes 
I worry that it might not be healthiest thing to do. . . 
Comics are a completely unique medium that have 
too many bad generic associations that are still 
perpetuated. I would give anything to make a penny 
from it- but I'm not going to stop because I don't!" 

paper trail 

Words: Jess Holland 

Zineswap: the latest in fanzine 

"Nick Carter hates crisps. If he had to choose between zines 
and crisps, he'd definitely choose zines." Gordo Armstrong 
and Rob Peart, the guys running Zineswap, have lost it.They 
keep going off on weird tangents and then shouting "Quote 
us on that! " But if you're maintaining an extensive database 
of worldwide underground publishing, you're gotto find 
a way to break up the boredom. "This is why it takes us so 
long," Rob points out, as he's logging in the details of my 
zine. It's not exactly a factory line. 

The Zineswap hub is a cramped bedroom in Hackney 
strewn with zines. There are zines on snooker champions, 
on a new poetry form called Iambic String Rhyme Weaving, 
and on one man's hatred of dolphins. There are messy teen 
fanzines about skateboarding, and elegant art zines filled 
with pictures of guns. There's one that's just a folded over bit 
of blank A2 card with a pencil taped to the front. Zineswap's 
only been going for a few months but they've already 
received shipments from America, Australia, and Japan. 
They're getting packages at a rate of about one per day. 

This is how it works: you send at least three of your 
magazines along with a stamped addressed envelope. Rob 
and Gordo take two copies for their archives, and scan in a 
few pages for the website.The rest go into the swapping pile, 
and you get the same number of new zines back in return. 
"It's a totally bedroom DIY operation," Rob points out, a bit 
unnecessarily, as I'm sitting in his bedroom, watching them 
do it themselves. 

The idea for Zineswap was born a few years ago, 
when the guys were graphic design students at Nottingham 
Trent, brainstorming ways get some art zines for free. But 
it wasn't until November last year that it finally launched, 
and by that point it had grown into something else. Now it's 
about creating a network and linking people up, Rob tells 
me. " It sounds stupid," he says, " but it just seems like a nice 
thing to do." The launch party was in an old rag factory in 
east London. There were sofas, cake, booze, swapping, bands, 
and you could hang out all day reading zines and chatting. 

There isn't another party planned until Zineswap's first 
birthday, so you'll have to go online to have a browse. It's 
not quite the same as leafing through zines in person, 
though. " It gives more weight to what you're doing when 
you're committed to print," Rob says, and Gordo starts 
musing about the death of pen pals, and howthey should 
have called their scheme 'Zine Pals'. Then, they start 
composing classified ads for 'Zine Pals' out loud - "Must 
have good sense of humour! Must have A5 fetish ! "- and 
going, "You can quote me on that! " 

It's a short jump from here to speculating about members 
of the Backstreet Boys, which is why, if you send zines in, you 
shouldn't expect reciprocation in the next post. Do it, though. 
You might get the one full of menus listing jacket potato 
fillings, or the one containing a page on "my age through the 
ages" (a list of years and ascending numbers). Or you might — 
and this slightly freaks me out- get mine. 

The Bed Sitting Room 

bad old days 

Words: Emily Bick 

Appraising the BFI's Flipside series: 
the past is a foreign country- and you 
wouldn't want to live there 

I watched this clutch of BFI Flipside reissues first, 
then read about them. Maybe that was my mistake. 
Or maybe that was a good thing, because these 
three films come with thoughtful, well-researched 
essays by people like lain Sinclair and Stuart Home, 
cultural critics of the nuclear fusion school: they can 
take the tiniest atoms of culture, put them together, 
and boom, illuminating gestalt. The essays I've seen 
are quite good. If I'd read them first, I might have 
tried to convince myself that the films were too. 

First, there 's The Bed Sitting Room 
(1 969), which follows survivors of a 'Nuclear 
Misunderstanding' in London. Spike Milligan 
and Pete'n'Dud wanderthrough piles of rubbish, 
keeping up appearances and acting out pre- 
'misunderstanding' institutions (the BBC is a guy 
with a TV set on his head). It bombed in most 
English-speaking territories, and you can see why: 
the 6th-form Kafka and Beckettisms irk, and the 
casting of Rita Tushingham as a 1 7-months 
pregnant teenager, with Mona Washbourneher 
wittering mother, is pretty offensive, considering 
their respective roles in A Taste of Honey and Billy 
Liar, kitchen-sink classics that, while flawed, at least 
acknowledged that maybe people resent the slots 
they're shunted into. 

If it wasn't well-received then, this film couldn't 
be made now, even as satire. If there's been a 
nuclear war, it's no misunderstanding -and part 
of the fallout is an already-crumbling social contract 
this film fails to acknowledge. Even Lord Of The Flies 
was a film hit by 1 963, so how much meek queuing 
and forelock-tugging was really going to hold, even 
for the next 1 years, nuclear war or no? Worse, 
the soundtrack's all comedic Carry On-style brassy 

pootlings. The only thing that could have saved this 
is if Morrissey had been drafted in to write the essay. 

Primitive London (1 964) and London In The 
/?aw(1 965) are sillier still: documentary voiceovers 
promise travelogue and expose, over random 
juxtapositions of gory plastic surgery, cheesy 
re-enactments of parties, and talent-show rejects. 
After 1 5 minutes or so, the most interesting thing 
is trying to see how the main set, used in most of 
the 'documentary' footage, has been styled this 
time around, or how the same actresses show 
up as everything from bored housewives to judo 
champions to garden variety strippers. Looking for 
a time capsule, I'd rather watch a bunch of adverts. 

Who were these films for? By the mid-Sixties, 
surely there was better porn around than a bunch 
of theme-restaurant belly-dancers. As faux-verite, 

Looking for a time 
capsule, I'd rather 
watch a bunch of 

they condescend to - and insult - the most Velveeta 
of provincials. These films feel time-lagged, in the 
way, say, Russ Meyer's Beyond The Valley Of The 
Dolls (1 970) feels time-lagged, with its buxom 
babes frugging to the Strawberry Alarm Clock. 

Why release these, why now? With any random 
trawl of YouTube, you can find whole landfills of 
digital trash, from montages of Victorian spanking 
to sub-Troma straight-to-VHS exploitation. Way 
back in the Eighties and Nineties and before, there 
was a real fetishisation of anything slightly weird 
that was lost and rediscovered. I'm beginning to 
think that the virtue of that kind of exotica was 
not in the actual content, but in the scholarship 
and work needed to fetch stuff up in a pre-search 
era. What we've got here is scholarship wasted on 
stuff not worth finding. 

the angelic conversation 

Words: Anne Hollowday 


Dir Isaac Julien, BFI, 76 minutes 

From the discrete reactionary politics and violent 
panache of Jubilee (1 978) to the kitsch and opaque 
anti-establishment eros of Caravaggio (1 986), the 
work of the prolific gay artist and filmmaker Derek 

connotations. Images reveal Jarman's life narrative, 
his nuances and his trials and tribulations, whether 
turning his back on an academic lifestyle for painting 
at the Slade, choosing to describe his struggle with 
attacks on the emerging gay movement through the 
story of Christ's passion or selecting a monolithic 
pantone for his iconic film Blue (1993). 

His images are subjective and opaque and yet 
often concurrently, coarsely transparent. And in Derek, 

such images via a day-long interview at his home 
in Dungeness, filmed in 1 990 with producer Colin 
MacCabe. Film clips, archival and interview footage 
and voiceover narration posthumously amalqamate 

into a lustful, heady, insightful glance into a proud 
and boastful, yet beautifully humble psyche. Yet its 
direction by one of Jarman's spirited proteges, the 
youthful gay artist and director Isaac Julien who is in 
many ways his contemporary doppelganger, ensures 
an air of dissonance and empathy. You don't have to 
be gay, an artist, a London dweller, a punk, HIV positive 
or have lived in the Sixties to appreciate this film. Its 
images, in true Jarman fashion, transcend the screen. 

" I remember the sea, I remember the garden, 
I remember the cottage but most of all, I remember 
you. . .dear Derek," whispers Jarman's muse, Tilda 
Swinton in an angled whisper at the film's outset. 
Her words are too muted to catch in their entirety and 
the straining effort to force meaning from these obtuse 
sounds is overbearing.The words are not important. 
Locating his gravestone, she bends double and grasps 
the grooved marbled head sensually, stroking it with 
all her might. Everything becomes clear. The image 
speaks. As she later asserts, people are "missing 
the point", and the point is dialogism. Although 
a self-confessed apolitical urchin, Jarman managed 
to deconstruct dominant ideology - often in a wry, self- 
depreciating manner, but always far from the confines 
of opposing factions. Moreover, his anti-monolithic 
intellect resounds in today's culture too; coerced by 
the separatist rhetoric of red tops and PR spin doctors, 
what we should be celebrating is diversity. Derek 
underlines these sentiments and thrusts them right 
back into the headlights for new dissection. 

But does it go too far? Swinton reminds us that 
although culture no longer means just "yoghurt," 
it now translates as "marketable endeavours". 
Derek, while an impressive and artful testament 
to a canonised 'saint', has a whiff of the commerce 
faction. The question is whether this is truly what 
Jarman, the reclusive and subterranean introvert, 
would have wanted. 

plan b 1 81 

0K f so clearly you have memorised (at least) 
one piece of ridiculous hyperbole about you. 
Please quote your favourite here. 

"Someone said that Kanye West had bitten my 
style. I don't see that. I read lots horrible stuff 
about me all the time - YouTube comments are 
terrible. There are some really soddish people on 
there who say the worst things. I try not to respond 
but sometimes I can't help myself. Someone said 
I'd ripped off The Cure. I 'ye sampled The Cure. 
I had to go on and explain myself." 

What is the biggest misconception about you? 
The most over-used adjective(s) about your 

"The biggest misconception is that I'm a cunt. 
Heh hen... I'm nice really, but I have made a few 
journalists cry when they've asked stupid questions. 

'Cheesy' is a word I hear a lot. 'Genius' is probably 
the word that should get used. " 

What was the most heinous lie you ever told 
in an interview? 

"When I shot the video for 'Random' I said I was 
great at pool, because they wanted a scene with 
me playing it. The first shot I took, the ball flew 
straight off the table and just missed the lens, 
so that was a big lie which made me look like 
an idiot." 

What was your worst interview experience? 

" It was a more a performance - The David 
Letterman show. The drama beforehand 
was ridiculous, and it was all over boiled eggs. 
I was hungry and just wanted some egg and 
soldiers, so I sent my assistant, poor girl, to go 

and get some. I was getting ready to do my final 
rehearsal and she walked in with the eggs. I went 
to eat them, and got told there wasn't time... so 
I started throwing them around, into the lift and 
everything. Rosie O'Donnell came out of her 
dressing room to see what was going on. 
Apparently they're not going to book any more 
Def Jam artists." 

Correct your worst misquote. 

"One magazine wrote that I was4'1 1" and 
blonde. They had just met me, so I was like 
'What the fucklV . I'm 5'1 " and a half! I wish I 
was4'1 1", though -not an actual midget, just 
on the borderline. Being short is fun. I get IDed 
constantly, and people that don't know me treat 
me like a kid. 

"Actually, that's annoying." 

the random revenge of 
...lady sovereign 

\/ords: Thorn Gibbs 

'I started 
throwing eggs 
around, into 
the lift and 
everything 1 

Do you ever Google yourself? What's the best/ 
worst/weirdest experience resulting from this? 

" I Google myself about four times a week. 
I YouTube myself every day. I've probably watched 
every video of me on YouTube. I dissed Jentina on 
a track a few years ago, and recently I saw this skit 
taking the piss out of her, and they'd dressed up as 
me. This girl's blatantly American, but she answers 
the phone with 'Yow, it's me, Sovereign' and sounds 
just like me. It's fucking hilarious. I've read death 
threats too, which was scary. On some forum a few 
weeks before a show. Someone was saying they 
were going to come down and shoot me. I hired 
in security and all that, didn't get shot. " 

What's the favourite of your record covers and 
why? What does it, y'know, say about you? 

" I probably prefer the first one. It's a bit more 
budget. I'm not really bothered, I'd gladly sell my 
CD in a bloody cardboard box. I did handwrite 
my lyrics for this one, though. I never write on paper 
normally, I just go in the studio and get on with it. 
I got put off writing down because my older sister 
used to tear up my lyric books back in the day. It was 
so fucking spiteful of her, but I did some horrible 
things to her too. I'd throw her CDs over the fence. " 

What product/service/organisation would 
you allow your music to advertise and why? 

" I'm in talks with Adidas at the moment to start 
a range in Japan. It's not definite yet, but if it 
happens it'll be sick. I wouldn't allow my songs 
to advertise just anything. Some wheat crackers 
company wanted to put my song on an advert. I said 

no. If Stussy wanted my music I'd say 
yes all day long. I love them." 

Have you ever covered a song 
'cause you think you can do it better 
than the original? 

"I think my take on 'Pretty Vacant' was pretty cool. 
Maybe not better than the original - but I liked it." 

What's the most actually fairly insane thing 
a fan has done to impress you? 

" Probably that guy who raised $ 1 0,000 to take 
me out on a yacht and put me up in a nice hotel. 
The whole night was shit. It's a really long story, 
but if I was allowed to bring some of my people 
itwould'vebeenfun. It was just me, him and his 
mate -and it was boring." 

82 | plan b 

plan b and republic of 
music present: three 
days by the seaside 

Words: Alexis Somerville 

Telepathe Photo: Heather Culp 

Cutting-edge distributors 
Republic Of Music team 
up with The Great Escape, 

Brighton's festival for new 
music, showcased at various 
venues from 14-16 May 

The Low Anthem 

Charlie Darwin (Bella Union) 

This Providence trio are masters of a 
sickening number of instruments, from the 
harmonica to theTibetan singing bowl. Here, 
they celebrate Darwin's 200th birthday with 
an eerie, gospel-tinged ode to survival of the 
fittest. "Oh my god, the waters all around 
us. . . "- impending doom never felt so good. 

Oh Bijou 

Black Ice (Bella Union) 

Canadian Singer-songwriter Casey Mecija's 
solo project has evolved into a seven-piece. 
Citing Julie Doiron as an inspiration, Mecija 
also brings to mind Mazzy Star and Feist. 
Her vocals wrap you in a patchwork quilt 
distantly remembered from childhood. 
The sound of hibernation in the deepest 
of winters - you won't want to wake up. 

The Miserable Rich 

Monkey (Humble Soul) 

Brighton chamber pop band, who acquired 
their name after encountering an unsmiling 
crowd of aristocrats in Rome. The Miserable 
Rich incorporate disturbingly beautiful string 
compositions and warm, opulent vocals. 
Providing sanctuary from the despondent 
jet set, this should best be listened to in 
a tree house, or an imaginary tree house. 

The Acorn 

Crooked Legs (Bella Union) 

Canadian indie folk band who have toured 
and released a twelve-inch EP with Oh 
Bijoujhe Acorn are like the school geek 
you secretly had a crush on. "I'm going as 
far as these crooked legs take me, "sings 
Rolf Klausener. Which, if there's any justice, 
is probably quite far. 

Slow Club 

I Was Unconscious, It Was A Dream 
(Moshi Moshi) 

Slow Club are the unseen side of their 
hometown, Sheffield. Portrayed as an 
industrial monster, parts of the South 
Yorkshire city are in fact as quaint and 
beautiful as a Peak District village, even 
when it floods. Slow Club's fine boy/girl 
vocals tell stories that grab at your sleeve, 
dragging you outside to play in the sun. 


Stockholm 1 973 (Ctrl Alt Delete) 

Sourya are starting to get noticed outside 
of their native Paris. Dedicated fans of punk 
rock and no wave, they've adopted a post- 
punk take on disco with astonishing results. 
Picture an impossibly hip Parisian warehouse 
party but without any pretentions. Everyone's 
on the dancefloor and it's all smiles al night. 


Fot I Hose (Moshi Moshi) 

Norwegian electro act fresh out of the box, 
formed only a year ago. Not wishing to exist 
inside any sort of box, however, they employ 
the use of shadow puppetry and children's 
entertainment as part of their repertoire. 
They also have some damn fine hooks to 
go with their irresistible beats. 


Already Over (Deadly People) 

New York/Miami five-piece influenced by the 
likes ofThe Zombies. Violens (pronounced 
'vy-lens', an unlikely mix of violence and 
violins) can sing about pretty much anything 
and make it sound optimistic.The choral 
harmonies here are a case in point. 

James Yuill 

No Surprise (Moshi Moshi) 

London-based folktronica artist James Yuill 
has an appreciation for the songwriting skills 
of Nick Drake and Radiohead. He also has a 
love of beats, and he splices the two together 
remarkably well. You'll wish he lived inside 
your laptop, serenading you with his beats, 
effects and acoustic guitar. 


Shudda Radio Edit (Rife Records) 

Ollie Brown is Hereldeduke, a one-man 
writing, producing, singing, harmonica- 
playing machine. He enlists the help of other 
musicians and here evokes the image of 

a Northern British man swaggering 
down Hollywood Boulevard in a time 
warp spanning the Seventies to a time 
too far in the future to comprehend. 


So Fine (V2 Co-op) 

Brooklyn-based drone pop groupTelepathe 
formed in the ashes of prog-punk 
experimentalists Wikkid in 2004. They 
deconstruct the margins between dub, hip- 
hop and progressive pop with multi-layered 
female vocals; singing and whispering their 
uncanny verse to haunting effect. Girls meet 
robots in at a poetry slam. 

Love I i kef ire 

Signs (Heist Or Hit) 

Hailing from San Francisco, Lovelikefire 
possess an independent spirit and an 
intimidating frontwoman in the form of 
Ann Yu (who, incidentally, looks like butter 
wouldn't melt). Their shoegazing indie power 
pop hurls you around in a dreamlike pillow 
fight with just a hint of real danger. 

Sunny Day Sets Fire 

Adrenaline (Wonderboat) 

Psychedelic indie pop group from London 
via the rest of the world. They claim to be 
influenced by The Wizard Of Oz, a declaration 
somehow evidenced in their music.They 
sound like a day spent inside watching said 
film, just before the sun comes out and the 
ice cream man arrives. 

The Voluntary Butler Scheme 

Multiplayer (Split) 

The Voluntary Butler Scheme is essentially 
one man, Rob Jones, based in Stourbridge 
near Birmingham. He writes bedroom pop 
songs with heartfelt integrity. When he sings 
"Love is a game, I wanna play with you, " 
you kind of believe him... and just try to 
resist the urge to ruffle his hair as the 
singalong chorus kicks in. 

Dan Auerbach 

The Prowl (V2 Co-op) 

Guitarist and vocalist forThe Black Keys 
doing what he does best - bluesy rock 
and droning Sixties psychedelia. With lyrics 
about lurking in the shadows, Auerbach 
makes stalking sound oddly glamorous. 
Urn, which it isn't, obviously- but the song 
thrives on its sinister blues noir imagery. 

My Latest Novel 

Dragon Hide (Bella Union) 

An indie folk band from the small town 
of Greenock near Glasgow, My Latest 
Novel's imaginative, literature-inspired 
songs merge elements of post-rock 
with surf pop harmonies. Gloriously 
melodramatic, 'Dragon Hide's violins 
and towering chorus form the soundtrack 
to an epic adventure. 

plan b 1 83 

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r@N AND 

23rd;26th July 2009 

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JuWild Parties, Action Camps, Theatre, 
^^v. Parades 6 Big Burns 

Limited tickets available